From Publishers Weekly
After initiating a separation from her husband—whose repellently named invention, the splotch-catching hot dog diaper, has bankrupted them—Ellen Flanagan, faced with supporting two young daughters, makes the levelheaded decision to sell the family home in the suburbs of Portland, Ore., to pay off debts and keep her business (a smalltown coffee shop) afloat. One daughter takes the change in stride, another plots to disrupt the sale, and Ellen soon finds herself struggling with her own deep feelings for the house. Obnoxious buyers make things worse, and lurking behind all her preparations to move is the possibility—alternately tempting and unsettling—of reconciling with husband Sam, who seems blindsided and bewildered. HGTV.com columnist McCleary's tale of real estate woe (plus a little entrepreneurship gone wrong) will resonate with unhappy homeowners, as will her portrait of a regular woman pushed to extremes trying to do the right thing for her family. (July)
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Ellen can stand losing her husband. With his weird inventions and obsession with magic tricks, he has ignored family finances and sent them plummeting into financial hell. It is the loss of the beloved home that she has decorated so lovingly over the years that threatens to shatter her. The fact that her daughters don’t want to leave the house, either, only adds to Ellen’s sorrow. To make matters worse, the perky new owner shows up early to measure windows, check out the walls, and make notes for her contractor. As this oblivious woman rambles on about the changes she is going to make, it becomes obvious to Ellen what she needs to do. In McCleary’s poignant, gently humorous novel, the characters seem utterly alive, and the locations are exquisitely described. This book also has one of the best opening paragraphs in recent memory, and is altogether so superior it’s hard to believe that it’s a debut. Readers who enjoy fine women’s fiction, such as Mary Alice Monroe’s Sweetgrass (2005), will be delighted to discover this new author. --Shelley Mosley
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