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Swallow Paperback – December 11, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Swan Press (December 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615280994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615280998
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,905,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Plank has a knack for combining philosophical opinions, hard-luck family stories, discount shopping triumphs, and gently slapstick humor into a book that makes readers laugh, think, and swallow hard in sympathy." --ForeWord Reviews

"I swallowed it up, no pun intended... The novel is very chatty and engaging... A great beach read." --Gotham Gal

"...As engaging as any book I have read. Although it does seem to be a little long at first, the character development is so appealing that once you start reading you find yourself eagerly anticipating what will come next..." --Examiner.com

"This is not just regional, women's fiction - it transcends any genre... Ms. Plank's first novel is a brilliant show of even greater things to come. She is an author to watch and follow." --The Review Broads

Swallow, which I've just started reading, hooks you from the opening pages with its breathless urgency and captures what it's like to live in NY now, with money worries and ambition and myriad obligations breathing down your neck, and none of it written in cutesy chick-lit'ry. So give it a try. --Vanity Fair Online, James Wolcott, January 15, 2010

About the Author

Tonya Plank worked as a criminal appeals attorney in New York City. A ballroom dancer and a longtime balletomane, she writes the popular dance blog, "Swan Lake Samba Girl." SWALLOW is her first novel. Praise for "Swan Lake Samba Girl" "Tonya Plank [is] one of New York's most precious assets." James Wolcott, VANITY FAIR blog. "Tonya Plank is one of the blogosphere's freshest, liveliest, least predictable, and most pleasing voices. Long may she samba!" Terry Teachout, author of ALL IN THE DANCES and POPS: A LIFE OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG.

More About the Author

Tonya Plank grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Arizona, an M.A. in History from Brown University, and a J.D. from Rutgers Law School - Newark.

She worked for many years as a NYC appellate-level criminal defense attorney for indigents. Also a competitive ballroom dancer, she writes the dance blog, Swan Lake Samba Girl, which has been lauded by James Wolcott of Vanity Fair and Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal and has been cited in those publications as well as the New York Times Arts Beat blog, the Washington Post, and CNN.com. Her first novel, Swallow, won a gold medal for best regional fiction in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards, the gold medal for women's fiction in the 2010 Living Now Book Awards, and was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her law review articles have been cited in numerous books and publications.

She currently lives in New York, where she is working on her second novel, a legal / urban drama.

Customer Reviews

I just could not get into it (of course I read books in-between).
I really wanted to like this book as it seemed that most of the other people who read this book did.
Cheryl Koch
I didn't like the main character and I felt that I could not relate to her at all.
Cassandra Kendall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Sophie Hegel left Florence to attend Yale Law School although her shyness makes public speaking a combat sport. At school during a debate she met decade older Stephen. In early 2001 with the Towers still part of the landscape, she graduates and passes the New York State bar Exam. Sophie starts work at New York City's Public defender Office and moves into Stephen's Manhattan apartment.

Engaged to marry, they are having dinner together when she suddenly cannot eat or speak and barely can breath. Her throat feels stuffed by a ball the size of her fiancé's fist. She remembers as a seven years old having the first time the fist blocked her throat when she, her sister and mom left their dad in California to move to the Arizona penitentiary city of Florence. Finally deciding to learn what her condition is, Sophie finds out she suffers from a psychosomatic illness Globus Sensate; a condition that makes it difficult to represent her Sing Sing clients in a court of affluence, but 9/11 will soon teach her what terror truly is as she walks down sixteen flights.

This is a terrific character study of a mid twenties woman struggling with a psychological disorder that attacks her physically at importune moments in a world and in her mind already out of control with unfairness. Whether it is Arizona, New Haven, or New York, Sophie struggles to survive feeling like an outsider; enabling her to empathize with her poverty stricken clients. Fans will root for this wonderful heroine who refuses to allow her delicate condition and her sense of not belonging from preventing her from doing her best for her indigent clients who face a system that scorns them as losers for being poor.

Harriet Klausner
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Northrop on January 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Not only was this book a blast to read, but it also offered me an unlikely education in subjects as far ranging as criminal appeals, dress sizes, and therapy. It's a very metropolitan mix, and this is very much a New York book. Who knew such peril could lurk within the sugary haze of Serendipity? And because the main character originally hails from a small town in Arizona, the perspective can be by turns inside and outside. Highly recommended for native New Yorkers, fellow transplants, and anyone curious about what it's like to carve out a life in NYC.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth A. White on June 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Like so many times since arriving on the East Coast, I realized that, for all the oohs and aahs I received back home for my accomplishments, they amounted to absolutely nada here". - Sophie Hegel

It's hard to believe that someone who graduated from Yale Law School and landed a prestigious fellowship with the New York City Public Defender's Office could think her accomplishments amount to "nada," but when we meet Sophie Hegel at the beginning of author Tonya Plank's debut novel, Swallow, Sophie is experiencing serious self-confidence issues.

Originally from a small town in Arizona, she's not found the transition to the fast paced world of NYC easy. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, an attorney at a prestigious law firm, works insane hours and the only socializing they do seems to bring her into contact with a crowd of upscale attorneys from generations deep ivy league pedigrees... which only makes her feel more insecure.

Things seem to be looking up when her boyfriend proposes to her at dinner one evening, except that she suddenly gets the sensation that she has a lump in her throat and finds it nearly impossible to swallow. Not only does the sensation not go away, it gets progressively worse and her inability to eat anything substantial causes her to lose such an alarming amount of weight that her friends and family think she has an eating disorder. Though she doesn't, she does realize that she needs help, and thus begins her search for the cause of her condition.

Despite that rather dire sounding set-up, Swallow is actually a very engaging, darkly humorous read. Sophie's attempts to find the answer to her problem in the medical world, first with a physician then a psychologist, are fertile ground for misadventure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lynn McNamee on March 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Plot/Storyline: 3 1/2 Stars

While this novel really pulled me in with the opening scenes, it really sagged under its own weight in the middle. I enjoyed every section that built the storyline, but there were way too many long stretches that strayed from the point.

There were plenty of scenes that explained Sophie's problems, but unfortunately, they were diluted by so many irrelevant ones. At the beginning, I had real trouble figuring out what was so wrong with her life. Her boyfriend appeared perfect, and she was going to marry him. She had a job she loved. Sure, she had a nutty family, but that's certainly not unusual. It took forever to find out what was wrong with the boyfriend. There weren't even any real hints along the way, which there should have been since his marriage proposal appeared to be what set off Sophie's condition.

While most of this novel was very realistic, the scenes involving Sophie's visits to her psychiatrist are ridiculously improbable. At least, I hope they were. Her psychiatrist was like a caricature from a comedy skit. He only nodded or said things like, "And how did that make you feel?" Okay, perhaps there are some lousy therapists out there. However, Sophie could not eat! She was slowly starving herself. Surely, the guy would have noticed how much weight she was losing and been a little concerned.

A humorous side note: At one point Sophie gets a call on her cell phone while she is busy with someone. She checks the caller ID, then turns off her phone, or at least that's what she said, "I turned it off." Later, as she is walking out the door, her phone vibrates in her purse to tell her she has a missed call. I'm glad my phone doesn't do things like that after I turn it off.
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