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All books published by Godine and its imprints
Better Than Sane
Tales from a Dangling Girl
When forty-year-old Alison Rose got a job as a receptionist at the New Yorker in the mid-80s, she was taken up by the writers there—“a tribe of gods,” who turned her from a semi-recluse into a full-fledged writer for the magazine. These kindred souls formed an impromptu club: Insane Anonymous (a “whole other world that was better than sane”). Rose was unlike anyone in the group. As Renata Adler said of Alison’s path, “It was the most nuanced, courageous, utterly crazy way to have wended.”
In Better Than Sane, Rose takes us from her childhood to her years at The New Yorker, revealing how, often, she “didn’t care enough about existence to keep it going” and preferred to stay in her room with her animals and think. She writes about growing up in California, daughter of a movie-star-handsome psychiatrist who was charming to friends but a bully and a tyrant to his family; moving to Manhattan in her twenties, sleeping in Central Park, subsisting on Valium, Eskatrol, and Sara Lee orange cake; moving to Los Angeles, attending the Actors Studio, living with Burt Lancaster’s son “Billy the Fish,” encountering Helmut Dantine of Casablanca fame, who gave her shelter from the storm, and about meeting Gardner McKay, her childhood TV idol, and becoming sacred, close, lifelong friends; and, finally, returning to New York, where she found the inspiration to pursue a career as a writer.
“Deadpan, smart, hypersensitive, and mordantly funny.”
“The most radical anti-memoir.”
“Rose writes of her life rather than examining it, and her haunting memoir is exquisitely detailed.”
Any Bitter Thing
A gripping and compassionate tale of family and faith, whispers and accusations, and the deeply hidden truths we’re compelled to uncover.
After surviving a near-fatal accident, thirty-year-old Lizzy Mitchell faces a long road to recovery. She remembers little about the days she spent in and out of consciousness, save for one thing: She saw her beloved deceased uncle, Father Mike, the man who raised her in the rectory of his Maine church until she was nine and he was accused of improprieties, dismissed from his church, and Lizzy was sent away to boarding school. Was Father Mike an angel, a messenger from the beyond, or something more corporeal?
Though her troubled marriage and her broken body need tending, Lizzy knows she must not only uncover the details of her accident, but also delve deep into events of twenty years earlier, when whispers and accusations forced a good man to give up the only family he had. With deft insight into the snares of the human heart, Monica Wood has written an intimate and emotionally expansive novel full of understanding and hope.
“Deserves a place on the shelf with modern classics such as John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany and Richard Russo’s Empire Falls….the story is full of suspense and surprise.”
—Maine Sunday Telegram
“Wood illuminates the grace in the average and the everyday, the miracles that lie within the ordinary life….[An] intimate exploration of love and faith, betrayal and penance.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“In prose as fresh and lovely as a Maine summer evening . . . Wood’s story unassumingly builds in power, right up to its moving final page.”
“This emotional story is filled with crisp, rich details that linger in the memory….Wood’s stirring domestic drama is full of surprises as it explores the weighty themes of religion, perceived innocence, and the corrosive quality of best intentions.”
The acclaimed author’s controversial 1967 debut was a novel of men at war—with themselves.
Lieutenant Dan Tierney is a Marine aboard the vast but labyrinthine and claustrophobic USS Vanguard, an aircraft carrier on patrol in the Pacific in 1956. Forced by the illness of his commanding officer to assume control of the Marines on board, Tierney must make decisions that will alter the lives of his troops and the shape of own future.
When a minor infraction committed by a promising young Private named Ted Freeman leads to a major investigation, a secret culture of initiation rituals and homosexuality is exposed. Torn between protecting Freeman and safeguarding the Marines’ reputation, Lt. Tierney must come to terms with the tragic reality of a system he had once idealized.
The Lieutenant explores the culture and politics of the United States military at the start of the Vietnam War, and reveals the insecurities of the men whose lives were defined by it.
“The Lieutenant is a masterpiece of military fiction and character driven storytelling. Each page is a work of total control and wound up energy, a predator ready to pounce. The beauty and stupidity of military service are on full display, as well the yearnings and failings of young men practicing leadership and preparing warriors for the battle. Dubus’s nuanced interiority and patient pacing changed the art of American military storytelling. The Lieutenant has been a secret for far too long. Read it.”
—Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
“Dubus is a master, our American Chekhov, and this re-issue of his only novel, The Lieutenant, is a gift.”
—Elliot Ackerman, author of Red Dress in Black & White
“Andre Dubus was a genius. His tense, wholly absorbing first (and only) novel has the dramatic pacing of a thriller, but with tremendous psychological and moral insight. At first a local study of power and of characters desperate to place their faith in corrupted and corrupting human institutions, the notes struck by the novel’s end resonate out, leaving us questioning the structure of our own relationship to power, and what, precisely, it is we put our faith in.”
—Phil Klay, author of Missionaries
“A fine, tense, wholly absorbing novel.”
—Richard Yates, author of Revolutionary Road
Am I Pretty When I Fly?
An Album of Upside Down Drawings
Like a long, funny letter from an old friend, an album of drawings by the legendary singer and activist for social justice, Joan Baez.
Since retiring from active performing, Baez has focused her formidable talents on painting and drawing. This collection of drawings shows another side of Baez: lovingly loose and charming sketches on reoccurring themes such as politics, relationships, women, animals, and family. Each section, organized thematically, includes an introductory piece by the artist. Baez approaches her line drawings as exercises in freedom: she begins drawing upside down—often using her non-dominant hand—without any preconceived notion of where the lines might lead her.
Beginning with her seminal debut album in 1960, Baez has been a musical force of nature of incalculable influence whose earliest recordings fed a host of traditional ballads into the rock vernacular. In 1963, she introduced Bob Dylan to the world, beginning a tradition of mutual mentoring that continued across her many recordings. As a lifetime advocate for non-violent social change, she marched on the front line of the civil rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr., shined a spotlight on the Free Speech Movement, took to the fields with Cesar Chavez, organized resistance to the Vietnam War, and inspired Vaclav Havel in his fight for a Czech Republic.
Am I Pretty When I Fly? reveals yet another side of a beloved icon.
“A book exploding with spontaneity and humor, and a grand tour through the mind of one of the great artists of the twentieth century.”
“Am I Pretty When I Fly? is moving, subversive, and heartbreaking. Childlike but not childish, full of wonder as well as despair. I loved it. Just like life. Thank you, Joan.”
“Joan Baez is much more than a cultural icon and spiritual/creative godmother to multiple generations of people on this planet. She has repeatedly put herself on the line for peace and justice and for the downtrodden who have nowhere to go. And then there’s that voice—stunning, earth-shattering, loving, reaching in and piercing one’s soul to help us hang on for dear life. And now her artwork and drawings, along with her pointed wit, reach into us again. We know we live in an upside down world, but the human eye, in its every waking moment, is actually taking an upside down picture and turning it right side up on the way to the brain. This book insists we see the world the way it really is. I’ve never seen such a work as this. Wow. Just wow.”
“Am I Pretty When I Fly? shows me a side of Joan Baez I could not have imagined. It is entertaining, moving, ridiculously funny, insightful, and mysterious.”
—Lana Del Rey
“We always knew Joan Baez was funny and clever. We didn’t know she was that funny and clever. The real surprise, however, came to us in Joan’s new book, Am I Pretty When I Fly? These drawings elicit a stunning depth of feeling as they spin off from humor and romp through tenderness, cynicism, anger, heartbreak and—cloaked in silliness—a terrifying peek at current events. She has put down the guitar and reached for a pen and paper without missing a beat. This brilliant book is an example of an artist drawing the best of herself. These amazing ‘feelustrations’ are revelatory not only of Joan but humanity itself. She is a gift that keeps on giving.”
—Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner
“The pages come alive, taking readers on a pictorial trip through Baez’s life . . . Baez brings readers into a wonderland of intriguing characters . . . fans and newcomers alike will appreciate this intimate look into Baez’s unique artistry.”
—Kirkus Reviews (Starred review)
50 Acclaimed Authors on 100 Unforgettable Short Stories
“Fiction authors weigh in on their favorite short stories in these soulful reflections . . . the pensive selections offer revealing insight into how they think about literature. Bookworms will want to dig into this.” —Publishers Weekly
A moving and inspiring anthology of masterful essays on stories that touch the hearts and minds of readers.
“A writer,” Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow once said, “is a reader who is moved to emulation.” New York Times bestselling novelist and memoirist Andre Dubus III took that idea and invited acclaimed authors to write about short stories that altered their view of life and their place in it—short stories that, ultimately, made them want to write something substantial themselves.
Here is Richard Russo on “Builders” by Richard Yates and Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” Joyce Carol Oates on John Updike’s “A&P.” Tobias Wolff on Hawthorne’s “Wakefield.” Michael Cunningham on James Joyce’s “The Dead.” And much, much more. Readers will not only gain new insight into these masterfully written stories but also the impact each had on the contributors’ lives and work.
The fifty contributors are T.C. Boyle, Russell Banks, Richard Bausch, Robert Boswell, Charles Baxter, Ann Beattie, Madison Smartt Bell, Ron Carlson, Lan Samantha Chang, Michael Cunningham, Junot Diaz, Anthony Doerr, Emma Donoghue, Stuart Dybek, Dagoberto Gilb, Julia Glass, Mary Gordon, Lauren Groff, Jennifer Haigh, Jane Hamilton, Ron Hansen, Paul Harding, Ann Hood, Pam Houston, Gish Jen, Charles Johnson, Phil Klay, Dennis Lehane, Lois Lowry, Colum McCann, Sue Miller, Rick Moody, Antonya Nelson, Bich Nguyen, Joyce Carol Oates, Stewart O’Nan, Peter Orner, ZZ Packer, Ann Patchett, Edith Pearlman, Jayne Ann Phillips, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Anna Quindlen, Ron Rash, Richard Russo, Dani Shapiro, Mona Simpson, Jess Walter, Tobias Wolff, and Meg Wolitzer.
Reaching Inside will remind you why you fell in love with reading.
Introduction: Andre Dubus III
“Sonny’s Blues,” James Baldwin
“The Long-Distance Runner,” Grace Paley
“I Stand Here Ironing,” Tillie Olsen
“Pale Horse, Pale Rider,” Katherine Anne Porter
Madison Smartt Bell
“King of the Mountain,” George Garrett
“Sredni Vashtar,” Saki
“Clay,” James Joyce
“Yours,” Mary Robison
“Circular Ruins,” Jorge Luis Borges
“Getting Closer,” Steven Millhauser
“The Paper Lantern,” Stuart Dybek
“Solo Song: For Doc,” James Alan McPherson
“Bliss,” Katherine Mansfield
“The Prince,” Craig Nova
“The Brother,” Robert Coover
“The Sorrows of the Flesh,” Isabel Huggan
“The Garden of Forking Paths,” Jose Louis Borges
“Continuity of Parks,” Julio Cortazar
“Barn Burning,” William Faulkner
“Bartleby, The Scrivener,” Herman Melville
“Winter Dreams,” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Boys,” Rick Moody
“Wakefield,” Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?,” Joyce Carol Oates
“The School,” Donald Barthelme
“Bullet in the Brain,” Tobias Wolff
Kirstin Valdez Quade
“Love,” William Maxwell
“Dance of the Happy Shades,” Alice Munro
“The Lady with the Dog,” Anton Chekhov
“Good People,” David Foster Wallace
“The Lottery,” Shirley Jackson
“The Builders,” Richard Yates
“Where Will You Go When Your Skin Cannot Contain You,” William Gay
“A Worn Path,” Eudora Welty
“The Gift of the Magi,” O. Henry
“Wants,” Grace Paley
Jayne Anne Phillips
“A Good Man is Hard to Find,” Flannery O’Connor
“In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,” Delmore Schwartz
“A Love Match,” Sylvia Townsend Warner
“Roman Fever,” Edith Wharton
“Guests of the Nation,” Frank O’Connor
“Welcome,” John Edgar Wideman
Joyce Carol Oates
“Battle Royal,” Ralph Ellison
“A&P,” John Updike
Bich Minh Nguyen
“Cathedral,” Raymond Carver
“In the American Society,” Gish Jen
“Heart of Darkness,” Joseph Conrad
“The Girl Who Left Her Sock on the Floor,” Deborah Eisenberg
“The Company of Wolves,” Angela Carter
“The Use of Force,” William Carlos Williams
“Spanish in the Morning,” Edward P. Jones
“The Things They Carried,” Tim O’Brien
“A Ball of Malt and Madame Butterfly,” Benedict Kiely
“The Love Object,” Edna O’Brien
“A Small, Good Thing,” Raymond Carver
“The Management of Grief,” Bharati Mukherjee
“Why Don’t You Dance,” Raymond Carver
“The Second Tree from the Corner,” E.B. White
“The Grand Inquisitor,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky
“The Harvest,” Amy Hempel
“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” Ambrose Bierce
“Trumpeter,” John Gardner
“Sara Cole: A Type of Love Story,” Russell Banks
“A Note on the Type,” Ron Carlson
“Girl,” Jamaica Kincaid
“Home,” Jayne Anne Phillips
“The Swimmer,” John Cheever
“The Jewels of the Cabots,” John Cheever
“To Build a Fire,” Jack London
“Master and Man,” Leo Tolstoy
“Goodbye My Brother,” John Cheever
“White Angel,” Michael Cunningham
“The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street,” Mavis Gallant
“Family Furnishings,” Alice Munro
“The Overcoat,” Nikolai Gogol
“The Shawl,” Cynthia Ozick
“Madagascar,” Steven Schwartz
“The Death of Ivan Ilych,” Leo Tolstoy
“The Artificial Nigger,” Flannery O’Connor
“No Place for You My Love,” Eudora Welty
“A Father’s Story,” Andre Dubus
“Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne
“La Noche Buena,” Tomas Rivera
“Paso del Norte,” Juan Rulfo
“The Grasshopper and Bell Cricket,” Yasunari Kawabata
“Birds,” John O’Brien
“An Attack of Hunger,” Maeve Brennan
“The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“Bloodchild,” Octavia Butler
“Night Women,” Edwidge Danticat
“Work,” Denis Johnson
“The Dead,” James Joyce
Lan Samantha Chang
“French Lesson I: Le Meurtre,” Lydia Davis
“The Cask of Amontillado,” Edgar Allan Poe
“Babylon Revisited,” F. Scott Fitzgerald
“The Tell-Tale Heart,” Edgar Allan Poe
“The Corn Planting,” Sherwood Anderson
“A Conversation with My Father,” Grace Paley
“Hills Like White Elephants,” Ernest Hemingway
“The Real Thing,” Henry James
Please Wait by the Coatroom
Reconsidering Race and Identity in American Art
Far-ranging and thought-provoking essays on the relation of art and ethnic identity.
This first collection by award-winning author John Yau, drawn from decades of work, includes essays about Black, Asian, Latinx, and Native American artists: sculptors Luis Jimenez and Ruth Asawa; “second generation Abstract Expressionists” such as the Black painter Ed Clark and the Japanese American painter Matsumi Kanemitsu; the performance artists James Luna and Patty Chang; the photographers Laurel Nakadate and Teju Cole; and a generation of Asian American artists that has emerged during the last decade.
While identity is at the fore in this collection, Yau’s essays also propose the need for an expansive view of identity, as in the essay “On Reconsidering Identity,” which explores the writings of Lydia Cabrera and Edouard Glissant, and the possibilities of creolisation versus the reductiveness of Aime Cesaire’s Negritude.
Please Wait by the Coatroom is for serious readers interested in the art and artists of color that many mainstream institutions and critics misrepresented or overlooked. It presents a view guided by the artists’ desire for autonomy and freedom in a culture that has deemed them undesirable or invisible.
My Man in Antibes
Getting to Know Graham Greene
When a writer tracks down his literary hero, Graham Greene, who is living quietly on the shores of the Mediterranean, the author finds his new friend is every bit as complex as the fiction he’s famous for.
While living in southern France in 1972, Michael Mewshaw engineered a meeting with Graham Greene. Mewshaw was an ambitious young journalist and novelist, Greene was an internationally revered elder statesman of letters. The pair became fast friends and corresponded for the next twenty years. My Man in Antibes is an intimate portrait of what it was like to eat, drink, and gossip with one of the most revered—and complicated—authors of the twentieth century.
Growing up Catholic with literary aspirations, Mewshaw believed Greene was the author to emulate. Not only did Greene demonstrate how religious belief and church dogma could be subjects for fiction, he also wrote murder mysteries and political thrillers where his characters’ inner conflicts played out dramatically in exotic settings. Under Greene’s sway, Mewshaw traveled through Mexico like the whiskey priest in Greene’s The Power and the Glory and honeymooned at the Hotel Oloffson in Haiti, the setting of The Comedians.
When Mewshaw tracked down Greene in Antibes, he found the author was far from a reclusive, close-mouthed figure: Greene garrulously recounted tales about the many women in his life—and husbands of those women—as well as his extraordinary interviews with political figures such as Fidel Castro and Ho Chi Minh. Over the next two decades, Mewshaw and Greene ate meals together, discussed their travels, and talked about writers they knew in common, such as Anthony Burgess, Shirley Hazzard, and Gore Vidal.
While young Mewshaw looked up to the world-weary Greene, their relationship was never simply that of mentor and mentee. My Man in Antibes bristles with misunderstandings, arguments, and one young writer’s desire to get to know a legendary older writer who, in many ways, actively sought to remain unknowable.
“Mewshaw finds much in Greene’s life and work to admire and emulate, along with human frailty, and he conveys the ups and downs of their relationship with genuine intimacy. The humanity of a renowned literary figure is fascinatingly revealed through a long friendship.” —Kirkus
“This is a fond but never less than candid memoir of a defining figure of his time. Graham Green was calculatedly elusive, but Michael Mewshaw has given us a glimpse behind the altar at the man divested of his vestments. Wonderfully entertaining.”
—John Banville, author of April in Spain
“Graham Greene, top British novelist of the twentieth century, his writing by turns (and often all at once) political, romantic, thrilling, satiric, curt, hilarious, his life full of old-school adventure, possibly even espionage, plenty of danger in any case: what more fascinating friend could a person have? And what better chronicler than Graham Greene’s friend Michael Mewshaw, eager young novelist in the orbit of the master, more and more trusted as time went on, closer than almost anyone got. This elegant account of decades of often warm, sometimes prickly companionship offers fascination, revelation, laughter, and ultimately pathos. A beautiful memoir of parallel lives, My Man in Antibes kept me turning pages into the wee hours, crisp glass of gin at my side.”
—Bill Roorbach, author of Lucky Turtle
“Michael Mewshaw, an award-winning novelist, has already chronicled his fascinating friendships with Gore Vidal and Pat Conroy. Here he combines and contrasts the remarkable story of his deprived upbringing with that of an older and already established Catholic writer: Graham Greene. Mewshaw’s account of his long friendship with a notoriously private man joins Shirley Hazzard’s memorable account of Greene on Capri in providing an intriguing, entertaining and enlightening glimpse behind the mask of one of twentieth century literature’s most enigmatic authors. I found the book most fascinating.”
—Miranda Seymour, author of I Used to Live Here Once: The Haunted Life of Jean Rhys
“The novelist Michael Mewshaw’s infatuation with Graham Greene, with whom he had a long and rocky friendship, is riveting. By artfully interweaving his own story with that of Greene’s, he shows his literary idol in all his complexity, as combative, querulous, secretive, unreliable, yet possessed of remarkable strength and courage. In a prose at times as vivid and dramatic as that of its subject, and with a comparably economical sense of place, Mewshaw’s memoir offers valuable lessons about the limits of the life Greene chose to lead, a life he himself has long admired and emulated.”
—Zachary Leader, author of The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005
The Paper Man
A deeply moving interwar romance set between 1930s Austria and 1980s Ireland, based on a real-life unsolved mystery.
1930s Austria. Vienna is a bustling, cosmopolitan city on the brink of war. Matthias Sindelar is an internationally renowned soccer player known as “The Paper Man” because of his because of his effortless weave across the field. When Sindelar speaks out against Hitler, his fame can’t protect him from being placed under Gestapo surveillance. Meanwhile, Sindelar falls in love with a young Jewish girl named Rebekah. As the atmosphere in Vienna darkens under the Nazi regime, Rebekah flees to relatives in Cork, Ireland. Only after she arrives there does she realize she is pregnant with Sindelar’s child. The following year, at the age of 35, The Paper Man is found dead in his apartment.
1980s Ireland. In the Jewish Quarter of Cork, Rebekah’s son Jack Shine discovers a bundle of German letters and newspaper clippings tied with a ribbon while sorting his mother’s belongings. With the help of his German-speaking father-in-law, Jack translates the letters and attempts to piece together his family history and, hopefully, solve the mystery of his father’s identity.
Based on real people and true events, The Paper Man is the story of twentieth-century Europe, the Holocaust, the cost of fame, and love against the odds.
A Brief History of the Exclamation Mark!
“A delightfully sprightly and pun-laden history.”—Kirkus Reviews
Few punctuation marks elicit quite as much love or hate as the exclamation mark. It’s bubbly and exuberant, an emotional amplifier whose flamboyantly dramatic gesture lets the reader know: here be feelings! Scott Fitzgerald famously stated exclamation marks are like laughing at your own joke; Terry Pratchett had a character say that multiple !!! are a ‘sure sign of a diseased mind’. So what’s the deal with ! ?
Whether you think it’s over-used, or enthusiastically sprinkle your writing with it, ! is inescapable. An Admirable Point recuperates the exclamation mark from its much maligned place at the bottom of the punctuation hierarchy. It explores how ! came about in the first place some six hundred years ago, and uncovers the many ways in which ! has left its mark on art, literature, (pop) culture, and just about any sphere of human activity—from Beowulf to spam emails, ee cummings to neuroscience.
“[An] entertaining debut . . . worth shouting about. Illuminating history . . . sharp analysis.” —Publishers Weekly
“The history of a much-maligned punctuation mark. As the author notes, it grabs our attention, whether we want it to or not, and it exists in nearly every language….‘Among all glyphs,’ she writes, the bold mark is ‘most available, and most versatile, the most recognisable and most ironic.’ In the end, its job is to ‘attend to admiration’ and ‘point out wonder.’ A delightfully sprightly and pun-laden history.”
“Enjoyable mischievous . . . an invitation to shrug off the prescriptions of the language police and reawaken a sense of wonder.”
—The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)
Family, Fatherhood, and Finding Home on Martha's Vineyard
The story of a man coming into his own by coming home.
Since he was a boy, Bill Eville knew he wanted two things in life: to be a writer and a father. Being a minister’s husband had not been on this list, having left the church as a teenager as soon as his parents stopped making him go each Sunday.
In Washed Ashore, Eville’s life changes when his wife Cathlin takes a job as the first female pastor of a 350-year-old church on Martha’s Vineyard, the island that was once home to generations of his ancestors. With their two small children in tow, the couple begins a new life eight miles out at sea.
Readers follow Eville’s journey from stay-at-home-dad to newspaper editor as he discovers what it means to be a writer, a father, and—after his wife’s devastating breast cancer diagnosis—what it truly means to be a minister’s husband. Washed Ashore, told in a series of linked essays, is poignant and funny, filled with faith, struggle, and light.
“Here is life: rich, raw, glorious and complicated. Bill Eville’s experiences are at once singular—married to a minister, living on an island—but also universal. In this memoir, he writes about his ordinary, extraordinary existence with warmth, wit, elegance and heart.”
—Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of March
“A touching and heartfelt memoir that explores parenting, love, illness and faith with buoyancy and hope. Like a visit to the Vineyard, it stays with you for a long time.”
—Gary Shteyngart, author of Our Country Friends
“There are few writers—people, in general—who can make us acutely aware that the very guts of our lives are constantly spilling out of us. It is the even rarer human-writer who can help us curate those hurts and joys and passions, to organize the unorganizable. Bill Eville is such a writer and Washed Ashore is a book I will never forget. It will make you appreciate your own life, and I’m not sure there is much more we can ask a book to do.”
—Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women
“Storytelling takes creativity. But memoir requires courage. With creativity, courage, and vulnerability, Bill Eville holds up a mirror to himself—and in the process helps us all see a little piece of ourselves. He is still on the journey to home, still evolving. But through these pages shines the bright light of a great husband, a great father, and for me personally, a great friend!”
—U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock
The Lioness of Boston
A deeply evocative novel of the life of Isabella Stewart Gardner, a daring visionary who created an inimitable legacy in American art and transformed the city of Boston itself.
By the time Isabella Stewart Gardner opened her Italian palazzo-style home as a museum in 1903 to showcase her collection of old masters, antiques, and objects d’art, she was already well-known for scandalizing Boston’s polite society. But when Isabella first arrived in Boston in 1861, she was twenty years old, newly married to a wealthy trader, and unsure of herself. Puzzled by the frosty reception she received from stuffy bluebloods, she strived to fit in. After two devastating tragedies and rejection from upper-society, Isabella discovered her spirit and cast off expectations.
Freed by travel, Isabella explores the world of art, ideas, and letters, meeting such kindred spirits as Henry James and Oscar Wilde. From London and Paris to Egypt and Asia, she develops a keen eye for paintings and objects, and meets feminists ready to transform nineteenth century thinking in the twentieth century. Isabella becomes an eccentric trailblazer, painted by John Singer Sargent in a portrait of daring décolletage, and fond of such stunts as walking a pair of lions in the Boston Public Garden.
The Lioness of Boston is a portrait of what society expected a woman’s life to be, shattered by a courageous soul who rebelled and determined to live on her own terms.
“Franklin’s gorgeous, extraordinarily intimate and timely novel about Isabella Stewart Gardner showcases the life of a daring, brilliant woman who refused to be confined by the mores of her day, even as she searched for her truest self. So richly alive, I was running to Google to reacquaint myself with every mentioned painting, so moving, I wept over the tragedies and delighted in her bold success. How could any reader not be inspired by the cast of creatives including Oscar Wilde, Henry James, John Singer Sargent, and more? This book is just shatteringly good, with writing so artful, Isabella herself would surely approve.”
—Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You
“This beautiful, sensitively written novel explores the fascinating life of Isabella Stewart Gardner—feminist before feminism, celebrity before celebrity. Captivating and evocative, The Lioness of Boston transported me to America’s Golden Age. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Jessica Shattuck, author of The Women in the Castle
“The Lioness of Boston shows the deft touch of Edith Wharton and the delightful pomp of The Gilded Age—it’s a book both elegant and entertaining, one to savor line by line even as it carries us forward on the spirit and audacity of the narrator. Emily Franklin has rendered Isabella Stewart Gardner a classic literary heroine, one who emerges from heartbreak and defiance to shape her own life and the culture of an entire city.”
—Timothy Schaffert, author of The Perfume Thief
“A novel of blazing insight, The Lioness of Boston captures the daring life and mind of the unforgettable woman who transformed American art and the city of Boston itself. This masterfully written work of historical fiction will remind some of Lily King’s Euphoria and others of Melanie Benjamin’s The Swans of Fifth Avenue. Becoming Isabella is the best kind of novel—at once a deft page-turner and a thrilling love story about a woman’s passion for an independent life—that will sear your mind, break your heart, and leave you forever changed.”
—Dawn Tripp, author of Georgia: A Novel
“The Lioness of Boston is a treasure trove of art, sensuality, Boston history, and more. Emily Franklin has captured Isabella Stewart Gardner’s blazing life and the light it sheds on the lives of women then and now.”
—Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Ink