From Publishers Weekly
From the author of The Kept Man
comes an uneven road story about a woman fleeing from her past. Catherine Moonie Madison, 25, runs away from her stifling smalltown Nebraska life with a suitcase full of her husband's money, ending up in Las Vegas, where she finds a confidante and partner in crime in Valka, who, like her, is looking for escape. As the story progresses, Attenberg fills in Moonie's backstory via flashbacks; unfortunately, Moonie's hard-luck story is far less interesting than her adventures in Las Vegas. What resonates is her friendship with Valka, her dreamlike evening with a crew of hedonistic celebrity impersonators and her sometimes naïve observations on being outside of Nebraska for the first time. There's a promise of redemption as Moonie begins piecing together an unconventional life and stand-in family, but there's a certain deliberateness to the empowerment theme that makes it feel less than real. There are some nice moments, and Attenberg has a knack for poignant description, but the author seems distracted from the story she set out to tell. (Jan.)
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Betrayed by her husband, young Nebraska farm wife Catherine Madison steals his nearly $200,000 in cash and heads west. Never mind that it’s the middle of winter, the roads are covered with snow, and she has no idea where to go. What could be worse than living with a broken-down marriage and a family of reprobates and drunks? She ends up in Las Vegas, where she becomes instant best friends with Valka, a beautiful older woman who’s had her own share of misfortune. (Valka’s significant other abandoned her after ovarian cancer and a hysterectomy.) Together the two engage in bad-girl behavior, drinking and partying until the wee hours. They hang out with a lively group of celebrity impersonators: Valka beds Paul McCartney, Catherine locks lips with Prince. Catherine tells Valka her life story, and the sorry details of her broken heart are slowly—too slowly—revealed. Although Attenberg’s singular focus on Catherine’s efforts at self-empowerment occasionally grow tiresome, she renders poignant prose and portrays the desperate behavior of her characters with verve. --Allison Block