Synopses & Reviews
A failed erotic novelist; a hostess of prim sex-toy parties; an artist and a bookshop owner pursued by a demented if harmless stalker; wives, lovers, twin sisters, daughters all members of the artsy crowd in Omaha, try to hold their families, friendships and personal lives together as they face damaged and broken marriages, and mid-life crises during one whirlwind day that may only be saved by their own children, a timely fire, and a return to their senses.
Ashley, a frustrated novelist, teaches a community college class in the writing of erotica, which only seems to turn a magnifying glass on her own marriage woes. June has become filthy rich by selling marital aides at Tupperware-like home parties for a company called Sugar Shop Inc., but despite her wealth, she still longs to reunite with her impoverished ex-husband. Viv, an artist, learns to find creative inspiration, and maybe even a better understanding of herself, from a dirty-minded stalker who reliably sends her startling pictures in the mail every day. Peach and Plum, twin sisters, own a bookstore called Mermaids Singing, where together they attempt to unravel the knots of their own neuroses. All the while, the words and questionable wisdom of a tough-love motivational speaker, known only as Sybil the Guru, echoes throughout all their lives.
The day ends with a few raucous parties that threaten, or promise, to challenge the ways these various women continue to live. As the women struggle for guidance in the face of sheer lunacy, they come to realize that the most useful answers are likely the ones they come up with all on their own.
"The Old Market section of Omaha serves as the bohemian center of Schaffert's diverting third novel. Ashley Allyson teaches erotic writing workshops, but doesn't realize that her husband, Troy (who edits an alternative weekly, The Omaha Street), is cheating on her with her student, Peach. Peach is one the two 20-something identical twins who run the local bookstore, Mermaids Singing; the other, Plum, has a yen for Tucker, a tallish tattooed dwarf photographer who photographs his impressive genitals. Ashley's neighbor and friend Deedee Millwood operates a franchise of the titular 'Sweet Shop,' a sort of sex-based Tupperware party where she hawks racy goods and advises sexually forlorn suburbanites. Deedee's teenage daughter, Naomi, can't stand Deedee's confessions about her sex life, and has her own crush on gay teen Lee son of Ashley and Troy. Another friend and neighbor, African-American visual artist Viv Dailey, has been the victim of an increasingly active art stalker. Over the course of one improbably packed February evening, a missent e-mail between Peach and Troy brings everyone together. Schaffert (The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God) walks an uneasy tightrope between the amusingly sexy and the scabrous. The stalker's eventual characterization is a mean-spirited misstep, but Schaffert's bohemian Omaha is consistently surprising and vibrant." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This novel of desire, longing, love, and enduring friendship is like an expensive box of chocolates: each silken morsel is luscious and approvingly decadent, and with every bite you don't necessarily know what you're going to get." Library Journal (Starred Review)
"I made the mistake of reading Devils in the Sugar Shop with a bad case of whiplash. Timothy Schaffert had me in agony and loving every minute. What a poignant, hilarious, deliciously perverse twist on the old school of Southern charm. Men should not be allowed to write women this well." Joni Rodgers, author of Bald in the Land of Big Hair
"Timothy Schaffert has written about small Nebraska towns, where a pair of parentless sisters embarked on a journey of self-discovery. He's traveled rural, dusty Nebraska roads, where a country music-writing bus driver battled alcoholism while working to rebuild his shattered family." Omaha World-Herald
About the Author
Timothy Schaffert grew up on a farm in Nebraska and currently lives in Omaha. His short fiction has been published in several literary journals and he's won numerous awards, including the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award and the Nebraska Book Award.
He is the author of two previous critically-acclaimed novels, The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters and The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God.