From Publishers Weekly
Each of the eight related stories in Dormen's accomplished collection offers a snapshot from the scattershot life of Grace Hanford. "Fifty and holding," a child of divorce from Cleveland, Ohio, with decades of therapy and blind dates behind her, Grace has spent years "dissecting the romantic lives of single women in their twenties and thirties" for Marvelous Woman
magazine in New York City. Married to money-manager Richard, Grace has all the trappings of middle-age (the kitchen renovation, the "looming face-lift") except children of her own (Richard has two from a previous marriage). The first—and best—story, "The Old Economy Husband," lays out Grace's life in Greenwich Village, where she's lived long enough to watch the UPS man go gray. While ghostwriting an etiquette book, she recognizes she has relinquished her earlier theories about love and chosen a man "who made me feel like my fiercest, most clear-hearted twelve-year-old self." Subsequent stories limn with less panache the transitional periods in Grace's life: attending Elmira College for Women circa 1964 ("The Secret of Drawing"), quarreling with her younger brother over their dead mother's effects ("Gladiators"), arranging a reunion with her estranged father ("Curvy"). Dormen's narrator takes plenty of knocks, making the happiness she finds all the sweeter. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Raised by a self-involved, divorce-prone mother; alienated from her father; and engaged in an occasionally volatile relationship with her younger brother, New Yorker Grace Hanford lives life as a continuous struggle to find balance. Dormen's novel-in-stories is distinctive in that the collection does not progress in chronological order. Rather, each of the eight stories focuses on a different point in Grace's life--as an eager, sensitive freshman at an all-girls college, a thirtysomething single reaching out to her estranged father, or married and middle-aged on a trip to Rome. Grace is inquisitive, clever, sublimely compulsive, and owns an inherent loneliness that (unlike some despondent protagonists) doesn't come across as trivialized or steeped in self-pity. A common discord links the collection, though some readers may find more resonance in the stories as they stand alone rather than as an inclusive novel. Emerging writer Dormen's engaging fiction moves at a fluid pace with an equally affecting sense of poignancy and humor. Leah StraussCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved