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Good Griefby Lolly Winston
Synopses & Reviews
"The funny thing about rock bottom is there's stuff underneath it. You think, This is it: I'm at the bottom now. It's all uphill from here! Then you discover the escalator goes down one more floor to another level of bargain basement junk."
In an age in which women are expected to be high achievers, thirty-six-year-old Sophie Stanton desperately wants to be a good widow — a graceful, composed, Jackie Kennedy kind of widow. Alas, Sophie is more of a Jack Daniels kind. Self-medicating with cartons of ice cream for breakfast, breaking down in the produce section at the supermarket, showing up to work in her bathrobe and bunny slippers — soon she's not only lost her husband, but her job, her house, and her waistline.
Desperate to reinvent her life, Sophie moves to Ashland, Oregon. But instead of the way women starting over are depicted in the movies — with heroines instantly being swept off their feet by Sam Shepard kinds of guys — Sophie finds herself in the middle of Lucy-and-Ethel madcap adventures with a darkly comic edge involving a thirteen-year-old with a fascination with fire and an alarmingly handsome actor who inspires a range of feelings she can't cope with — yet.
Filled with laugh-out-loud humor, struggles, triumphs, and plenty of midnight trips to the fridge, Good Grief is a funny, wise, and heartbreakingly poignant novel from one of fiction's freshest and most exciting new voices.
"'The grief is up already. It is an early riser, waiting with its gummy arms wrapped around my neck, its hot, sour breath in my ear.' Sophie Stanton feels far too young to be a widow, but after just three years of marriage, her wonderful husband, Ethan, succumbs to cancer. With the world rolling on, unaware of her pain, Sophie does the only sensible thing: she locks herself in her house and lives on what she can buy at the convenience store in furtive midnight shopping sprees. Everything hurts — the telemarketers asking to speak to Ethan, mail with his name on it, his shirts, which still smell like him. At first Sophie is a 'good' widow, gracious and melancholy, but after she drives her car through the garage door, something snaps; she starts showing up at work in her bathrobe and hiding under displays in stores. Her boss suggests she take a break, so she sells her house and moves to Ashland, Ore., to live with her best friend, Ruth, and start over. Grief comes along, too — but with a troubled, pyromaniac teen assigned to her by a volunteer agency, a charming actor dogging her and a new job prepping desserts at a local restaurant, Sophie is forced to explore the misery that has consumed her. Throughout this heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss, Winston imbues her heroine and her narrative with the kind of grace, bitter humor and rapier-sharp realness that will dig deep into a reader's heart and refuse to let go. Sophie is wounded terribly, but she's also funny, fresh and utterly believable. There's nary a moment of triteness in this outstanding debut. Agent, Laurie Fox. (Apr.) Forecast: With a 100,000-copy printing, a low price point, a huge publicity push and blurbs from Jennifer Weiner and Billie Letts, this should hit the lists. Book Sense pick for March/April." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"If all this sounds perfectly familiar, it is, as 'women's fiction' assumes an increasingly hackneyed formula....Effervescent, silly debut: so eager to please that it reads like the speech of the candidate who won't open his mouth before the polls are consulted." Kirkus Reviews
"Tackling a difficult subject in a debut novel is a gutsy move, and Winston pulls it off with just the right blend of heartfelt humor and heartwarming humanity." Booklist
"There are thousands of books about looking for love, but not many about living through tragedy. This witty, big-hearted novel about a smart, funny young woman rebuilding her life fills that gap beautifully." Jennifer Weiner, author of Good in Bed and In Her Shoes
"Good Grief is one of the best first novels I have ever read, and anyone who thinks there is nothing new to read about loss, pain, love, humor, and ultimate renewal, should grab this book now. I will remember it for a very long time." Anne Rivers Siddons, author of Low Country and Islands
"Emotionally engaging, full of quirky characters with realistic problems, and capped with a satisfying conclusion, this first novel is a rare treat. Sophie is self-deprecating, smart-alecky, insecure, and so lost in grief and despair that we become instantly involved in her situation." Library Journal
"A lighthearted and amusing novel about loss, grief, and the therapeutic effects of baking. I love Sophie Stanton, and I want her recipes." Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife
"Lolly Winston had me from page one, really, from the first paragraph. She made me feel the grief that Sophie Stanton suffered. I wanted to put my arms around her, hold her, cry with her, and share a bottle of wine. She's a wonderful character in Good Grief, and now she's my friend." Billie Letts, author of Where the Heart Is
"Despite its occasional problems with tone and sometimes awkward interspersing of humor with more serious content, Good Grief is an auspicious debut." Portland Oregonian
"Sophie's funny, lopsided view of the world gives emotional depth to the story, and it is what makes Good Grief stand out from other novels that tackle this enormous subject." Washington Post
"With Good Grief, freelance journalist Lolly Winston has accomplished the improbable: She has made reading a humorous novel about a young woman coming to grips with life fun again." Miami Herald
"Newcomer Lolly Winston has a keen eye for funny-sad details in her novel Good Grief.... A satisfying read for those of us who have taken an Oreo or two of our own to bed in our time." Dallas Morning News
"A novel about a woman coping with grief might seem off-putting, but not in Lolly Winston's hands." Bookreporter.com
"This spring, the novel that might sate the appetite for human drama is Lolly Winston's Good Grief....This debut novel is way beyond OK. It is outstanding." USA Today
In the tradition of Billie Letts's Where the Heart Is (Warner, 1995) and Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone (Pocket Books, 1992), Good Grief will appeal to anyone who knows what it is to lose a loved one and struggle to move on. Lolly Winston has a beautiful, original voice. In this astonishing debut novel, she takes a sad situation and artfully finds the humor and pathos to make readers smile and break their hearts at the same time.
About the Author
Lolly Winston is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Redbook, Family Circle, Working Mother, and many other publications. She lives with her husband in California.
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