From Publishers Weekly
In Nash's winning debut, a long illness and mastectomy have put April Newton's life on hold for five years, and have made her and husband Rick practically strangers in and out of bed. As they prepare to move into the Redondo Beach, Calif., house Rick designed for them while she was still in treatment—with their teenage daughter, Jackie, in the throes of her first love—April's eye strays to a classic nearby beach bungalow being offered in a contest by an eccentric widow, who asks: What would you give—besides money—to live here? Under the guise of a shelter-magazine assignment, April tours the house of a sort that has all but disappeared, and meets its owner, who, for reasons of her own, promises to let it go below market to the most deserving applicant by Christmas. For April, it might be the perfect place to furnish a new life, one that might not have room for her distant husband and daughter. This grown-up fable replaces the erotics of sex with the erotics of floor plans, but April's midlife crisis and difficult adjustments ring true, as do the plot's surprising turns. (Feb.)
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Nash writes with gentle certainty of the fact that life is full of uncertainty. Turning to fiction after writing nonfiction about breast cancer (The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming & Other Lessons I Learned from Breast Cancer, 2001), she begins with her protagonist’s all-important five-year mammogram and the realization that even with good results, April Newton’s scars are deeper than her mastectomy. And her restlessness stirs choppy waters not unlike those surrounding the lavish new home her husband, Rick, is building. The view embraces sailboats on the Los Angeles Basin and the southward migration of gray whales: “It was water all the time from almost every room. . . . It astonished me every time I saw it.” Just as stunning is her perception that the place is haunted—by mortality. As pressures build within the marriage, April hopes to win a contest for the last bungalow on Redondo Beach, a far cry from the luxury of Rick’s house. Their teen daughter sees this as a rejection of Rick, almost an illicit affair. Can April navigate such deep waters? --Whitney Scott