For all of her days, Reta Winters has enjoyed the useful monotony of happiness: a loving family, good friends, growing success as a writer of light fiction novels "for summertime". This placid existence cracks open one fearful day when her beloved oldest daughter, Norah, drops out of life to sit on a gritty street corner, silent but for the sign around her neck that reads "GOODNESS".
With the same sensitivity and artfulness that are the trademarks of her award-winning novels, Shields here explores the life of a writer whose own novels have delighted readers for the past two hundred years. In Jane Austen, Shields follows this superb novelist from her early family life in Steventon to her later years in Bath, her broken engagement, and her intense relationship with her sister Cassandra. She reveals both the very private woman and the accomplished author.
He’s a thrice-divorced late-night talk-show host. She's an unmarried folklorist obsessed with mermaids. He lives for the present. She lives in the past. Both are leery of commitment. Neither has ever known lasting love. But when Tom Avery and Fay McLeod meet, it's love - or at least lust - at first sight. And then fate starts to throw them curveballs.
Ever since her husband left her - seemingly vanishing into thin air - Charleen Forrest has supported herself and her 15-year-old son on what she earns as an obscure poet and part-time gofer for an even more obscure scientific journal. But when her estranged mother remarries, prompting an unplanned reunion, Charleen finds herself moving out of her familiar existence.
When we meet Brenda Bowman in "The Wife's Story", the 40-year-old mother of two is preparing to fly to Philadelphia to attend a craft convention that will feature one of her quilts. She already has the flight memorized: leaving Chicago at 8:35, arriving at Philadelphia at 1:33. This will be her first trip solo, her first time away from her husband, Jack, in their decades-long marriage. She's nervous, excited... and tempted when she meets an intriguing stranger.
In this novel of a writer’s revenge, an uneducated farmer’s wife delivers a paper bag filled with scraps of her poems to the publisher of a small press. Hours later, she’s dead, murdered by her husband. Fifteen years on, her book of 125 poems - Mary Swann’s sole claim to fame - is discovered by an American academic. And a literary odyssey begins.
Larry's Party covers the life of Larry Weller, a modern man in the 20th century. Following Larry between the ages of 27 and 47, from 1977 to 1997, the novel illustrates what it’s like to be a man in Larry’s era, and how men have had to change; exploring how masculinity is defined in the post-feminist world. Read by William Roberts.
“Milk Bread Beer Ice” is a road trip shared by a husband and wife who no longer communicate through meaningful dialogue. Fifty-year-old “Hazel” is forced to enter an alien workplace after the sudden death of her husband. In “Today Is the Day,” the village women gather together for their annual ritual of planting blisterlilies. And “Family Secrets” travels to DeKalb, Illinois, and the First World War, as the narrator searches for a missing year in her mother’s life . . . and unearths a surprising connection to Ernest Hemingway.
Judith Gill lives with her husband, son, and daughter in a nice house in the suburbs of Ontario. She has carved out a niche as a respected biographer. Her universe is shaped and bounded by the lives around her, from her family to the subjects of her books. She finds herself in the background of her life, but she hungers to tell stories of her own.