An Elegant Woman

Martha McPhee (Author)
Available

Description

For fans of Mary Beth Keane and Jennifer Egan, this powerful, moving multigenerational saga from National Book Award finalist Martha McPhee--ten years in the making--explores one family's story against the sweep of 20th century American history.

Drawn from the author's own family history, An Elegant Woman is a story of discovery and reinvention, following four generations of women in one American family. As Isadora, a novelist, and two of her sisters sift through the artifacts of their forebears' lives, trying to decide what to salvage and what to toss, the narrative shifts to a winter day in 1910 at a train station in Ohio. Two girls wait in the winter cold with their mother--the mercurial Glenna Stewart--to depart for a new life in the West. As Glenna campaigns in Montana for women's suffrage and teaches in one-room schoolhouses, Tommy takes care of her little sister, Katherine: trapping animals, begging, keeping house, cooking, while Katherine goes to school. When Katherine graduates, Tommy makes a decision that will change the course of both of their lives.

A profound meditation on memory, history, and legacy, An Elegant Woman follows one woman over the course of the 20th century, taking the reader from a drought-stricken farm in Montana to a yellow Victorian in Maine; from the halls of a psychiatric hospital in London to a wedding gown fitting at Bergdorf Goodman; from a house in small town Ohio to a family reunion at a sweltering New Jersey pig roast. Framed by Isadora's efforts to retell her grandmother's journey--and understand her own--the novel is an evocative exploration of the stories we tell ourselves, and what we leave out.

Product Details

Price: $27.00  $24.30
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Published Date: June 02, 2020
Pages: 416
Dimensions: 5.7 X 1.2 X 8.7 inches | 1.0 pounds
Language: English
Type: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781501179570
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Martha McPhee is the author of the novels An Elegant Woman, Bright Angel Time, Gorgeous Lies, L'America, and Dear Money. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Gorgeous Lies was a finalist for the National Book Award. She teaches fiction at Hofstra University and lives in New York City.

Reviews

"Thoughtful...Delicately rendered characters inform a richly textured family portrait."
--Kirkus review

"A novelist recounts the twists and turns of her grandmother's life."
--Publisher's Weekly

"Martha McPhee has outdone herself with this irresistibly lively, worldly-wise, wonderfully imagined novel, wherein the American art of self-invention is explored with an clear eye to the price it exacts. All the characters are richly realized--none more so than the narrator, who regards her family myths with amused skepticism, tenderness and a consistently engaging intelligence."
--Phillip Lopate, author of A Mother's Tale and Two Marriages