The man who changed your life sits on death row and is about to be executed. He has refused all contact with you for decades. You have very little time in which to contact him before he's gone forever. What would you do to accomplish that? What wouldn't you do?
Addressing themes of home, betrayal, mourning, parenting, jealousy, the need for communication, the death penalty, and the complicated ways in which we connect, this is a piercing family drama that spills out the shocks left and right. Manaster's style is compelling, and her story sparkles with tension. The Done Thing is not to be missed! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Olive Kitteridge and The Woman Upstairs, this “deeply human and morally saturated novel” (Library Journal, starred review) explores how a terrible crime changed one woman’s life forever.
Lida Stearl prides herself on always doing the right thing — it has served her well throughout her life as she built a career as an orthodontist, maintained a happy marriage, and raised her young niece after the murder of her sister by her brother-in-law, Clarence Lusk. But now that she’s widowed, retired, and an empty-nester, the small perfections of her orderly life aren’t enough to stop her from feeling adrift.
Then a well-intentioned birthday gift leads her to discover that Clarence, on death row for his crime, is seeking pen pals from the outside as he prepares for his final appeal. For the first time in her life, Lida crosses a line — she begins to write him, pretending to be a naïve, flirtatious 23-year-old, in an effort to seek retribution. As letters pass steadily between Lida and Clarence, her obsession with revenge unfolds and she begins to question her morality.
The Done Thing is an utterly memorable and engrossing exploration of forgiveness, loyalty, and justice, and how a tragic event can suddenly change a life’s course.
“The Done Thing is a wonderfully engrossing novel — the unnerving and vividly-imagined tale of Lida Stearl, a charming widow who maintains her polite exterior although she’s quietly riven by grief and righteous fury. Tracy Manaster has written a novel that beguiles with its characters and its gripping story, but it also provides a rich investigation into what happens when we give space to our terrible little impulses, how these tiny monstrosities can grow and spread beyond our control.” Peter Mountford, author of The Dismal Science and A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism
“Lida Stearl is many things: a widow, a parent, a retired orthodontist, a proper St. Louis lady of a certain age, and hell-bent on making her sister’s killer’s final days on earth as unpleasant as possible. What begins as one woman’s obsessive, secret quest for revenge unfolds into a skillfully written exploration of forgiveness, family, loyalty, and justice. Tracy Manaster’s caustic yet tender second novel is a masterpiece." Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave
About the Author
Tracy Manaster is a graduate of Wesleyan University and The Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her earliest ambition was to be a balloon-seller in Central Park, followed by dreams of being a whitewater guide on the Green River, and then an archaeologist; now, she writes. Her family plays an elaborate, ritualized card game involving maracas; she will share the secret to a perfect blueberry pie with anyone who asks; and she spends way too much time trying to map a road trip that hits each National Park during its most beautiful season. She is the author of the novels You Could Be Home By Now and The Done Thing. Tracy lives in Portland, OR, with her husband and twin daughters.
Tracy Manaster on PowellsBooks.Blog
Six months out of my MFA program and 60-odd pages from completing my first-ever draft of my first-ever novel, I read (while — confession time — procrastinating on said novel) a glossy lifestyle piece on buying your second home first. I don’t remember the particular magazine, but I do recall irritation hitting me with all the subtlety of the magazine's perfume samples...