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Starred Review. Jamison's beautifully written debut follows independent young New Yorker Stella and her estranged aunt Tilly as they form some version of a family. Stella is disenchanted with her life and job as a journalist's personal assistant; Tilly is a professional lost soul, a former prostitute, and an unsuccessful recovering alcoholic. To all appearances, Stella is the savior, finding Tilly, who's been shunned by the family, to rescue her; but through alternating first-person accounts, the reader grows to view the two women as equals. Their experiences with men especially mirror one another's; Tilly has merely had worse luck. Stella describes wanting a man, any man, who could offer his face as a label for my loneliness; later, recalling men she's been with, Tilly says, most of them I didn't even like that much, but they seemed like the easiest way to change my own life. The relationship between Stella and Tilly is compelling, as are their relationships with auxiliary characters, like Stella's brother and Tilly's son, but what truly drives the novel is Jamison's gorgeous prose. (Feb.)
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First-time novelist Jamison portrays three generations of “wounded women” in an exquisite blues of a novel. The youngest, pretty Stella, is living the hip, single New York life, but she takes the train to Connecticut at night to care for Lucy, her grandmother, from whom age is stealing strength and clarity. When Stella learns a family secret, that she has a long-estranged aunt, she finds Tilly in a trailer park in Nevada and becomes entangled in her toxic sorrows. Narrating by turns in each lonely woman’s voice, Jamison creates emotionally complex scenes of harsh revelation in language as scorching as the gin Tilly downs in terrifying quantities. Stella is nearly as bedeviled, having struggled with the weird, dicey power of anorexia. The two make their way to Tilly’s banker son’s fortress of an apartment in a sketchy neighborhood in San Francisco, where all three are forced to recognize the limits of love. With trenchant cameos by other women teetering on the brink, Jamison’s novel of solitary confinement within one’s pain is hauntingly beautiful. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Beautiful language. The talent of this first time author is apparent. The story is very dark. Implausible ending for a character who was completely passive throughout her life.Published 6 months ago by Johanna C Stevens
Dark, yet very very good. Well-written and not a single gratuitous passage. The unexpected is around ever sad corner and yet the way the author explores the different facets of... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Britton Swingler
Blown away. Such powerful work. I could hardly breathe through parts of it. I just finished this book and feel the desire to open it to page one and dive right back in. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jayne Martin
This isn't an easy book to read (emotionally) and not one for those who only like predictable, happy endings. Read morePublished 15 months ago by T. L. Borden
I think this book will appeal to two disparate groups: those who revel in the misery of others, and those who understand that we humans are capable of falling into the depths of... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Geri Fitzpatrick
I bought "The Gin Closet" after reading a piece in the NYT Book Review about Ms. Jamison's new book, "The Empathy Exams. Read morePublished 17 months ago by beepclick
Red Baker, by Robert Ward … I picked this up the day Ben Whitmer suggested it on Facebook. He thought I’d enjoy it and he was right. I absolutely did enjoy it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Charlie Stella
I am just half way through this book and already feel it offers some of the finest writing I have ever had the pleasure to devour. Read morePublished on March 4, 2013 by zelda143
As indicated by several other reviewers, life is too short to stick with a book not worth reading after a giving it a decent chance. Read morePublished on February 23, 2012 by Commenterri