Synopses & Reviews
One quiet spring day in 1989, Constance Tepper arrives from Philadelphia to watch over her mother's Brooklyn apartment and her orange cat. Con's mother, Gert, has left town to visit her old friend Marlene Silverman in Rochester. Marlene has always seemed alluring and powerful to Con, and ever since Con was a little girl, the long-standing bond between Gert and Marlene has piqued her curiosity. Now she finds herself wondering again what keeps them together.
Con's week in Brooklyn will take a surprising turn when she wakes to find that someone has entered her mother's apartment and her own purse is missing. Stranded, with no money, she begins to phone family and friends. By the end of that week, she will experience a series of troubling discoveries about her marriage, her job, and her family's history, and much of her life will be changed forever.
In the fall of 2003, now living in Brooklyn and working as a lawyer, Con has almost forgotten that strange and shattering week. But a series of unsettling reminders and surprising discoveries—including traces of a lost elevated train line through Brooklyn—will lead to grief, love, and more questions. At last, a confrontation between Marlene and Con's daughter will unravel some of the mysteries of the past.
"Mattison's latest combines a dark comedy of manners with even darker midlife family suspense. Constance 'Con' Tepper plays the starring role in two long vignettes that take place 14 years apart. In the first vignette, Con is 45 and staying in her mother Gertrude's Brooklyn apartment to watch the cat. During this episode, 'Gert' has a terrifying and paralyzing experience, the repercussions of which affect both her and others' lives in the intervening years and in the later vignette. Although there are almost too many threads to keep track of in Con's story, the one that is most important and most fully realized jumps back to an even earlier episode: a mid-century correspondence between Gert and her friend Marlene Silverman. This fascinating epistolary device acts as a tempting breadcrumb trail through the women's lives and leads to the wrenching denouement. Though not all the subplots work (a major one involving Con's biracial daughter, Joanna, is flat), the overarching examination of friends and family is captivating. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A delightfully suspenseful domestic drama. . . . Mattisons novel summons the same exhilarating feeling as sitting on a stoop on a sultry New York City evening, enraptured by a neighbors gripping tale.” New York Post
About the Author
Alice Mattison is the acclaimed author of four story collections and five novels, most recently Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn. The Book Borrowerand her collections In Case We're Separatedand Men Giving Money, Women Yellingwere named New York TimesNotable Books. Raised in Brooklyn, New York, she teaches fiction in the graduate writing program at Bennington College in Vermont and lives in New Haven, Connecticut.