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The Only True Genius in the Family Paperback – February 3, 2009


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About the Author

Jennie Nash is also the author of the nonfiction book The Victoria's Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming: And Other Lessons I Learned from Breast Cancer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Original edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425225755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425225752
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,300,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

From the author: Perfect Red is a story about obsession, passion, and the perfect red lipstick. Why lipstick? A hundred reasons, really. I was inspired by a story one of my writing students told me about a real-life duchess who used blood to make her cheeks red; I was inspired by Coco Chanel, on whom my character Isadora is based; and I had done a lot of research about the color red for my last novel, The Threadbare Heart. All that was in my head when I started writing a story set in the 1950s about a secretary to a prominent book editor who becomes obsessed with with writing a book of her own. She's attracted to and repelled by the whole idea of passion, so the perfect red lipstick was a perfect subject for her. She longs to wear it, and to write about it, and wrestles with her yearnings throughout the book.

My favorite red lipstick is one by MAC. I'm not quite as bold as Lucy, so my red is more like a soft maroon. What's your favorite red? I'm taking a poll on my website and would love to hear your vote.

Thanks for reading!

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M.Jacobsen TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
Claire is a daughter, a wife and a mother. She has a career, a solid marriage and has successfully raised a talented daughter. So what's missing? As the daughter of a legendary American artist and the mother of the hottest new artistic talent to hit the scene in years, Claire is searching for her place in this world. How she finds that place, and what it takes to get there, is the journey explored in Jennie Nash's new novel, The Only True Genius in the Family.

I'll share the opening sentence to give you a taste of what you're in for:

"My dad died at an incredibly inconvenient time, and I have no doubt that he planned it that way on purpose."

Isn't that a great opening line? Thankfully the captivating beginning to this novel went on to become a thought-provoking middle and then a satisfying ending.

The Only True Genius in the Family is an exploration of one woman's place in this world. Author Jennie Nash artfully weaves a thoughtful, character-driven story and then laces it with subtle moral dilemmas, continually prompting the reader to step into Claire's shoes.

The novel is exquisitely put together, balancing the grieving process that accompanies the death of a parent with the hope we have for our children and then finding our own place in our family dynamics.

Recommended for anyone who has ever doubted their place in this world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christine Zibas VINE VOICE on March 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
There's a temptation to pass this book off as merely superior chick lit, and in some senses, it does contain similar characteristics. There's a woman and mother at the center of the story, there's family relationships, and a coming to terms with the death of a family member at the core of the novel.

Ah, but then, author Jennie Nash raises the stakes by introducing two very unusual subjects so rarely probed in such detail that bring her writing game to an entirely literary level. The first is just how parents injure their children, and how all of us carry the scars of childhood with us throughout our lives, reliving those same behaviors within our own family.

The second, perhaps more interesting is the study of creativity. Does it emanate from genius, or is it a seed that we all carry within us that some people are simply more free to express? In "The Only True Genius in the Family," the central character Claire is a food photographer with a successful career. Unless you compare it with her father's, of course. Her father is a true American icon, a landscape photographer in the tradition of Ansel Adams or Edward Weston.

Adding to this feeling of self doubt comes Claire's daughter, Bailey, who not only has a special relationship with Claire's impossibly difficult father, but is an outstanding artist in her own right. Bailey is just on the cusp of greatness as she puts on her graduate show for her MFA. A mother shouldn't feel jealous, right? In fact, she is happy for her daughter's success, but there's this unhappy voice within Claire that keeps muttering that both her father and daughter "just had it so easy." Everything they touch turns to gold, and in Claire's case, genius seems to have skipped a generation (or so her father painfully notes).
Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By doctor_beth #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book centers around Claire, a middle-aged married woman with a grown daughter. The novel opens with the death of Claire's father, a famous, "genius" photographer with whom she never got along. Although with the help of her husband, Claire has managed to build a very successful late-life career as a food photographer, she still seems to have bought into the idea that her father's talent has skipped a generation, residing instead with her daughter, Bailey, a gifted younger painter who is on the verge of getting her Master's of Fine Arts degree. With her father's death, the fine balance that Claire has created in her life begins to slowly crumble away. Claire's unresolved issues with her father manifest in tension between her and Bailey, especially given that Bailey, who was always extremely close to her grandfather, is now in control of the bulk of his estate. Claire must find some ways to come to terms with her relationship with her father, her relationship with her daughter, and her own talent and career.

This book was a quick and most engaging read. As a main character, Claire is not always likeable; at times her behavior feels annoying and even absurd. However, this might make a good reading club book, especially for a woman's book club consisting mainly of mothers who might relate well to Claire's character.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tracy F. VINE VOICE on February 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
Completely mesmerizing--that's how I felt after I started reading Jennie Nash's latest novel. After tremendous praise for her debut, The Last Beach Bungalow, Nash brings readers to Manhattan Beach, California where her latest protagonist is searching for her true self.

Her father was a legendary photographer, and she's successful, but the one thing Claire has only heard from her father is that true artistic genius seems to have skipped a generation and fallen into her daughter, Bailey's lap. Claire's spent a lifetime of never hearing "I love you" or "You're a great photographer." Things that would have meant the world to her.

Claire's daughter seems destined for stardom when one of her painting sells to a famous producer. This evokes a touch of jealousy in Claire, but more because Claire's father has left the arrangement of his retrospective in Bailey's care. While Claire inherits his log house, Bailey gets the task of orchestrating his life's retrospective. It's a slap in the face that leads Claire on a journey to discover who she truly wants to be, learning a few surprises about her deceased father in the process.

From the start, I have to say I really felt for Claire. It seemed no one in her family was really getting it. Her father left her in her mother's care at a relatively young age and was part of her life only when it was convenient to him. The words he did throw at her when he saw her seemed overly cruel. Honestly, I was surprised she'd want much to do with him at all. Yet, I could also understand her desire to hear just once that he was proud of who she was.

THE ONLY TRUE GENIUS IN THE FAMILY is a heart-wrenching story of a slightly dysfunctional relationship between father and daughter that carries into the mother-daughter relationship. Once started, I found myself caught up in Claire's world not wanting to put the book down until I'd finished the final page.
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