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The Best Place to Be: A Novel in Stories Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 3, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 3, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416532617
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416532613
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,864,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Strauss
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Allison G. on May 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It made me remember why I read in the first place - to laugh, to nod my head in acknowledgement, to recognize some deep essential link we all have. Dormen's Grace is an amazing invention. She'll stick with you long after you finished the last page of this jewel of a book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erin Burdette on July 13, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Now I was fifty, not a mother, not a daughter, and the kitchen was in the living room and I didn't know how I was supposed to behave." -- this is an example of the funny/poignant/so not-syrup style of protagonist Grace, hero while trying to be anything but. There are satisfying revelations/epiphanies, but just as engaging are the turns of phrases and small gems sprinkled throughout. Ms. Dormen has found a character finding herself and as audience we hitch a ride, game to see if she can make good. The author's skill comes in unraveling the character in such a way that leaves you unable to put the book down so as not to miss a beat.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Hill on September 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I very rarely re-read a book. I read this book in May, loved it and just finished it again. Getting so much more out of it this time. It feels like a weekend with your best friend. It was so relateable, her relationship with her husband was so wonderfully nice, and true. I at times felt like I was reading about my life in regards to her marriage. But it was also just nice to read, that, in spite of some bad things, the character still finds so much enjoyment in life. It is all about finding joy, after all in the everyday living. I laughed out loud several times. Buy the book you won't be dissapointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Greta R. on April 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Imagine you have a wise generous friend who wants to tell you her story. Her story has a happy ending, but not because everything magically falls in to place. It's happy because the conflicts, pain, and good fortune of life are truthfully and artfully described. Lesley Dormen has crafted a beautiful and intimate book and the time I spent reading it was joyful.
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