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Broken for Youby Stephanie Kallos
Synopses & Reviews
National best seller and Today show Book Club selection, Broken for You is the story of two women in self-imposed exile whose lives are transformed when their paths intersect. Stephanie Kallos's debut novel is a work of infinite charm, wit and heart. It is also a glorious homage to the beauty of broken things. When we meet septuagenarian Margaret Hughes, she is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. As their tentative friendship evolves, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to the younger woman. This launches a series of unanticipated events, leading Margaret to discover a way to redeem her cursed past, and Wanda to learn the true purpose of her cross-country journey. Both funny and heartbreaking, Broken for You is a testament to the saving graces of surrogate families and shows how far the tiniest repair jobs can go in righting the world's wrongs.
"'The dead, Margaret thought. They can be so loud.' So muses the protagonist of this dreamy, powerful tale of familial warring, secrets and redemption. When elderly Margaret Hughes discovers that she has a malignant brain tumor, she refuses treatment and decides to take a nice young tenant into her huge, lonely Seattle mansion for company. What she gets is Wanda Schultz, a tough-as-nails stage manager who is secretly seeking the man who left her and prone to inexplicable weeping breakdowns. Wanda, ignorant of Margaret's illness, is intrigued by the museum-like house and its eccentric owner — so when Margaret unexpectedly invites her to a drink-champagne-and-break-the-priceless-antique-china party for two, she's delighted. But a dark history lurks; the houseful of gorgeous antique porcelain comes from Margaret's father's WWII pilfering of European Jewish homes. Meanwhile, Wanda's father, who deserted her years ago, is on the road trying to heal, and Margaret's mother's ghost is haunting the Seattle mansion, lounging about in expensive peignoirs and criticizing her only daughter. Wrestling to keep the dead and the ghosts of their pasts at bay, the two women slowly build an extraordinary friendship, and when Wanda discovers a talent for mosaics, the past begins to quiet. Though it takes a while to get started, this haunting and memorable debut is reminiscent of early Atwood, peopled by lovably imperfect and eccentric characters. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writer's House. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Stephanie Kallos's lovely and heartfelt first novel is a gift. A story of broken hearts and broken promises, it is also the story of the ways we put things back together — messily, beautifully, and ultimately triumphantly. Kallos is a writer to watch, and one who, mercifully, still believes in happy endings." Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger and The Mammoth Cheese
"Let the angels in! With this story of transformative friendships, Stephanie Kallos calls us to leave the dreary wisdom of our lives and seek the company of souls adrift. Good things come in pieces." Nancy Rawles, author of Crawfish Dreams
"In this sparkling debut novel, Stephanie Kallos has created an extraordinary testament to the power of love and forgiveness. Broken For You is a big-hearted book that pulses with life." Tova Mirvis, author of The Outside World and The Ladies Auxiliary
"A seventy-six-year-old woman who's just learned that she has a brain tumor takes in a thirty-four-year-old woman who's just been dumped by her boyfriend. Can this be funny? Yes. Painfully funny, beautifully written, and completely original. I love this novel." Lolly Winston, author of Good Grief
"Theater veteran Kallos debuts with a dazzling mosaic of intersecting lives and fates....Kallos has a rare, deft way with whimsy, dream sequences and hallucinations. Comparisons to John Irving and Tennessee Williams would not be amiss in this show-stopping debut." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means 'repair the world,' and this imperative serves as the narrative catalyst of Broken for You....This is a novel of redemption." Susan Coll, Washington Post
"Broken for You is moving and endearing, painful and satisfying, put together in just the right shape." Detroit Free Press
A fresh and compulsively readable debut novel about two women in self-imposed exile whose lives intersect, transforming both their worlds. Septuagenarian Margaret Hughes has spent most of her adult life alone in a mansion filled with antique porcelain whose dark origins hold a mysterious force over her. When she learns she is dying, she opens her home to a succession of oddball boarders, which is how she meets Wanda, a broken-hearted woman chasing the man who deserted her. As these two broken souls come together to form an unusual improvised family, past wrongs, both personal and historical, are repaired. Broken for You is funny, heartbreaking and alive with a potpourri of eccentric and irresistible characters, and will appeal to fans of Anne Tyler or John Irving.
Funny, heartbreaking and alive with a potpourri of eccentric and irresistible characters, this fresh debut novel is about two women in self-imposed exile whose lives intersect, transforming both their worlds.
About the Author
Stephanie Kallos spent twenty years in the theater as an actress and teacher, and her short fiction has been nominated for both a Raymond Carver Award and a Pushcart Prize. Broken for You is her first novel.
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