For fans of Nora Ephron and Jennifer Weiner, here is Katherine Ashenburg's witty, contemporary new novel about a forty-something newspaper columnist navigating her bold next chapter, set in Washington against the 2015 US presidential primary.
Liz is a columnist at a national newspaper in Washington, D.C. in 2014, where rumours that Hillary Clinton will run for the presidency are the talk of the town. Divorced and the mother of a college-age son, Liz has a full life: fantastic friends, a job she adores, and a breezy non-committal dating life. On the surface, Liz is thriving, but deep inside she is stalled in neutral, stuck in a clandestine affair with her married boss and still brooding on her marriage, which ended in betrayal, hurt and anger 12 years ago.
Liz's job is to edit an anonymous column called My Turn, choosing personal essays sent in from readers around the country. One day, her tidy life is upended when a submission about a marital squabble arrives from Seattle, from Nicole, the very woman who had an affair with Liz's ex-husband and is now married to him. Wife Two has no idea that she is sending an essay to Wife One, and Liz manages to keep her identity a secret while she engages in a long, ever more brutal edit of the piece. Still, the existence of the essay destabilizes Liz, and she starts acting erratically--abruptly ending her affair with the boss, publishing provocative essays that infuriate her colleagues and readers, investing in a growing pile of unread self-help books about forgiveness, and indulging in some questionable romantic decisions.
When the tangled web of Liz's deception with Nicole is suddenly exposed, Liz must face the harm she's causing others--and herself. She attempts to make amends, with shocking, farcical, and entirely unexpected results. A witty, smart, wise, and sparkling novel with moving depths (and musings on the pursuit of forgiveness) beneath its delightful surface.
Katherine Ashenburg is the prize-winning author of three non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. She describes herself as a lapsed Dickensian and as someone who has had a different career every decade. Her work life began with a Ph.D. dissertation about Dickens and Christmas, but she quickly left the academic world for successive careers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer; at the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail as the arts and books editor; and most recently as a freelance writer, lecturer and teacher.
Her first book, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario, won the Ontario Historical Society's award for best regional history. Her second book, The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die, was a finalist for two important prizes. Her latest book The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, is a spirited chronicle of the West's ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body. She's a regular contributor to the Sunday Travel section of The New York Times and she writes a column on design and architecture for Toronto Life magazine.