A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year
Acclaimed author Alice Mattison’s new novel explores the hard choices a young woman and her friends made decades earlier at the height of the Vietnam War.
Decades ago in Brooklyn, three girls demonstrated against the Vietnam War, and each followed a distinct path into adulthood. Helen became a violent revolutionary. Val wrote a controversial book, Bright Morning of Pain
, which was essentially a novelization of Helen’s all-too-short but vibrant life. And Olive became an editor and writer, now comfortably settled with her husband, Griff, in modern-day New Haven.
When Olive is asked to write an essay about Val’s book, a work that attracts and repulses her in equal measure, doing so brings back to the forefront Olive and Griff’s tangled histories and their complicated reflections on that tumultuous time in their young lives. Things only become more fraught when Griff borrows Olive’s treasured first edition of the novel—and loses it. Then Griff’s quirky and audacious new colleague, Jean Argos, finds the book and begins reading it, setting off a series of events that will introduce new conflicts, tragedies, and friendships into the precarious balance of Olive and Griff’s once stable home.
, the dazzling new novel from award-winning author Alice Mattison, paints the nuanced relationships between the palpable personalities of Olive, Griff, and Jean with her signature wit and precision. And as Mattison explores the ways in which women make a difference—for good or ill—in the world, she elegantly weaves together the past and the present, and the political and the personal.
Alice Mattison’s novels include The Book Borrower, Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn, and When We Argued All Night. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Ploughshares, and Ecotone, and been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and Best American Short Stories. Her most recent work is The Kite and the String: How to Write with Spontaneity and Control—and Live to Tell the Tale. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.