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Swallow Paperback – December 11, 2009

3.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Plank has a knack for combining philosophical opinions, hard-luck family stories, discount shopping triumphs, and gently slapstick humor into a book that makes readers laugh, think, and swallow hard in sympathy." --ForeWord Reviews

"I swallowed it up, no pun intended... The novel is very chatty and engaging... A great beach read." --Gotham Gal

"...As engaging as any book I have read. Although it does seem to be a little long at first, the character development is so appealing that once you start reading you find yourself eagerly anticipating what will come next..." --Examiner.com

"This is not just regional, women's fiction - it transcends any genre... Ms. Plank's first novel is a brilliant show of even greater things to come. She is an author to watch and follow." --The Review Broads

Swallow, which I've just started reading, hooks you from the opening pages with its breathless urgency and captures what it's like to live in NY now, with money worries and ambition and myriad obligations breathing down your neck, and none of it written in cutesy chick-lit'ry. So give it a try. --Vanity Fair Online, James Wolcott, January 15, 2010

About the Author

Tonya Plank worked as a criminal appeals attorney in New York City. A ballroom dancer and a longtime balletomane, she writes the popular dance blog, "Swan Lake Samba Girl." SWALLOW is her first novel. Praise for "Swan Lake Samba Girl" "Tonya Plank [is] one of New York's most precious assets." James Wolcott, VANITY FAIR blog. "Tonya Plank is one of the blogosphere's freshest, liveliest, least predictable, and most pleasing voices. Long may she samba!" Terry Teachout, author of ALL IN THE DANCES and POPS: A LIFE OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Swan Press (December 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615280994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615280998
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,604,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Sophie Hegel left Florence to attend Yale Law School although her shyness makes public speaking a combat sport. At school during a debate she met decade older Stephen. In early 2001 with the Towers still part of the landscape, she graduates and passes the New York State bar Exam. Sophie starts work at New York City's Public defender Office and moves into Stephen's Manhattan apartment.

Engaged to marry, they are having dinner together when she suddenly cannot eat or speak and barely can breath. Her throat feels stuffed by a ball the size of her fiancé's fist. She remembers as a seven years old having the first time the fist blocked her throat when she, her sister and mom left their dad in California to move to the Arizona penitentiary city of Florence. Finally deciding to learn what her condition is, Sophie finds out she suffers from a psychosomatic illness Globus Sensate; a condition that makes it difficult to represent her Sing Sing clients in a court of affluence, but 9/11 will soon teach her what terror truly is as she walks down sixteen flights.

This is a terrific character study of a mid twenties woman struggling with a psychological disorder that attacks her physically at importune moments in a world and in her mind already out of control with unfairness. Whether it is Arizona, New Haven, or New York, Sophie struggles to survive feeling like an outsider; enabling her to empathize with her poverty stricken clients. Fans will root for this wonderful heroine who refuses to allow her delicate condition and her sense of not belonging from preventing her from doing her best for her indigent clients who face a system that scorns them as losers for being poor.

Harriet Klausner
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But the star rating doesn't lie: I hated it. As with other reviewers, initially I found the main character to be an engaging, likable character. But as in the review directly prior to mine, I found the character's appreciation of her anorexic state disconcerting. If that had ever been addressed or redeemed, it'd have made perfect sense as a well done bit of writing - but instead, the final scenes continue to involve celebration of weight loss (in a character who'd previously been called gorgeous, with long drop-dead legs, etc, as well as with a fashion show reference), a theme which was clearly meant to be troublesome earlier (or was it?). I felt a bit as if we left Sophie and the story and instead wandered into the author's struggle to fit into a rigidly shallow society while beginning to earn enough money herself to justify spending hundreds on a bikini and begin to buy her way through the maze.

Speaking of, while some felt the 9/11 setting gave Sophie the impetus to move forward, I felt instead as if the author simply wanted to get her personal 9/11 story out there. It was not necessary to the book, is a complicated issue for many and it feels a bit manipulative to have been dragged into that story. It is a hell and I mean HELL of a thing to have lived through, I am not making light of that and I imagine it would be hard *not* to put your character in your shoes, but it just didn't work for me, for this story.

Additionally, I was left feeling that the final "resolution" was something of a cop-out when the author simply couldn't figure out how *to* resolve some issues. I mean, what would the resolution be in regards to Sophie's family? Stephen? Even Alana. Who knows. Better to just find a location cure and call it a day.
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Not only was this book a blast to read, but it also offered me an unlikely education in subjects as far ranging as criminal appeals, dress sizes, and therapy. It's a very metropolitan mix, and this is very much a New York book. Who knew such peril could lurk within the sugary haze of Serendipity? And because the main character originally hails from a small town in Arizona, the perspective can be by turns inside and outside. Highly recommended for native New Yorkers, fellow transplants, and anyone curious about what it's like to carve out a life in NYC.
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Format: Paperback
"Like so many times since arriving on the East Coast, I realized that, for all the oohs and aahs I received back home for my accomplishments, they amounted to absolutely nada here". - Sophie Hegel

It's hard to believe that someone who graduated from Yale Law School and landed a prestigious fellowship with the New York City Public Defender's Office could think her accomplishments amount to "nada," but when we meet Sophie Hegel at the beginning of author Tonya Plank's debut novel, Swallow, Sophie is experiencing serious self-confidence issues.

Originally from a small town in Arizona, she's not found the transition to the fast paced world of NYC easy. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, an attorney at a prestigious law firm, works insane hours and the only socializing they do seems to bring her into contact with a crowd of upscale attorneys from generations deep ivy league pedigrees... which only makes her feel more insecure.

Things seem to be looking up when her boyfriend proposes to her at dinner one evening, except that she suddenly gets the sensation that she has a lump in her throat and finds it nearly impossible to swallow. Not only does the sensation not go away, it gets progressively worse and her inability to eat anything substantial causes her to lose such an alarming amount of weight that her friends and family think she has an eating disorder. Though she doesn't, she does realize that she needs help, and thus begins her search for the cause of her condition.

Despite that rather dire sounding set-up, Swallow is actually a very engaging, darkly humorous read. Sophie's attempts to find the answer to her problem in the medical world, first with a physician then a psychologist, are fertile ground for misadventure.
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