UPDATED REVIEW 9/26/17:
This is a brilliantly written (debut!) literary novel at 500+ pages that reads both like an intimate memoir and a sweeping epic. The language dazzles as we become infatuated with, invested in, and infuriated with Joan Ashby: The Writer. Her craft is the single most important thing to her, and her ambition never wanes as she begrudgingly accepts motherhood. Reading her stories and knowing her sacrifices makes an eventual betrayal that much more painful. I’m halfway convinced that Joan Ashby is the real writer here, and Cherise Wolas is her literary agent. Wolas has an immense talent for storytelling and I will gladly read anything else she writes.
ORIGINAL REVIEW 8/29/17:
I received an eGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I almost didn't read this book. The description and the cover art definitely grabbed my eye, and I have a weakness for all protagonists named Joan, but I don't read "women's fiction" or much "contemporary family life" at all. Give me gritty realism and raw facts; even my taste in poetry tends to hit hard. I didn't want to read about another woman coming to realize that motherhood was a blessing in disguise, despite her sacrifices along the way.
I could not be more happy to be entirely wrong about this novel.
I am besotted with the way Wolas writes. I would read and reread entire paragraphs, languishing in their beauty before I was ready to move onward to the next delicious sentence. I, too, have fallen under Ashby's spell and would be delighted if any of HER writing were published today. I would read anything Ashby wrote, and the same now goes for Cherise Wolas, even if I have to wait 28 years in the meantime. I know it will be worth it.