From Publishers Weekly
A keen observer of the drama inherent in family dynamics, Wolitzer (Ending; Hearts; etc.) returns after a 12-year hiatus with this novel about Alice Brill, a 51-year-old wife, mother, frustrated writer and "book doctor" who wakes one morning with a disturbing pressure behind her sternum. The daughter of a once renowned but now senile surgeon, Alice initially thinks her symptom might be a sign of breast cancer, which took her mother's life 30 years before. Or could it be psychological: a reaction to being downsized as senior editor at a book publisher? or a premonition that the recent squabbling with her husband, Everett, signals a point of no return in an often competitive marriage? Is it unfulfilled creative impulse? In her attempt to diagnose her symptom, Alice scours her childhood relationship with her then imperious father, her mother's poetry, Everett's motivations for harshly disciplining their youngest son, and her own unexpectedly erotic response to a talented new writer who comes to her for advice on his first novel. With her customary grace and perspicacity, Wolitzer reveals her characters' humanity as they alternately flirt with and shun the very truth they seek about themselves, until escalating complications force them to choose to grow or be left behind. (Feb. 28)
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The mother of prolific author Meg Wolitzer returns with her first novel in 12 years, which focuses on the simmering emotions of middle-aged "book doctor" Alice Brill. Her father, once a brilliant surgeon, is suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and her youngest child may be a drug addict; but there is something else gnawing at Alice, a deeper worry that seems to be lodged in her chest and arouses a sense of dread. Nagged into seeing a psychiatrist by her blunt best friend, Alice begins to recover a memory from childhood that will cause her to reevaluate her parents'seemingly idyllic marriage. Meanwhile, her long-term marriage to Ev is suddenly rent by vicious disagreements about how to handle their son, and Alice finds herself physically attracted to a promising young author whose book she is editing. An astute observer of domestic travails, Wolitzer gives even the smallest events seismic significance, drawing a straight line, for instance, between a missing paperweight and the implosion of Alice's marriage. Alternately claustrophobic and insightful, this long-awaited novel will appeal to fans of Sue Miller. Joanne Wilkinson
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