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Good Grief


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Sophie Stanton is 36 years old and too young to be a widow. Widows wear cardigan sweaters and play weekly pinochle with friends named Gladys. Widows lose their husbands after 50 years of marriage, not after only three years. So far, Sophie's grief has led her to drive her car into the garage door, donate all her furniture to Goodwill, and gorge on Oreo cookies. Deciding that she has nothing left to lose, she moves to Ashland, OR, and discovers that a new life can help the pain and grief of losing Ethan. Emotionally engaging, full of quirky characters with realistic problems, and capped with a satisfying conclusion, this first novel is a rare treat. Sophie is self-deprecating, smart-alecky, insecure, and so lost in grief and despair that we become instantly involved in her situation. Her new life seems to bring more challenges, but she learns to face them with determination, humor, and the hope of finding some kind of meaning from the tragedy she has experienced. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"The grief is up already. It is an early riser, waiting with its gummy arms wrapped around my neck, its hot, sour breath in my ear." Sophie Stanton feels far too young to be a widow, but after just three years of marriage, her wonderful husband, Ethan, succumbs to cancer. With the world rolling on, unaware of her pain, Sophie does the only sensible thing: she locks herself in her house and lives on what she can buy at the convenience store in furtive midnight shopping sprees. Everything hurts-the telemarketers asking to speak to Ethan, mail with his name on it, his shirts, which still smell like him. At first Sophie is a "good" widow, gracious and melancholy, but after she drives her car through the garage door, something snaps; she starts showing up at work in her bathrobe and hiding under displays in stores. Her boss suggests she take a break, so she sells her house and moves to Ashland, Ore., to live with her best friend, Ruth, and start over. Grief comes along, too-but with a troubled, pyromaniac teen assigned to her by a volunteer agency, a charming actor dogging her and a new job prepping desserts at a local restaurant, Sophie is forced to explore the misery that has consumed her. Throughout this heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss, Winston imbues her heroine and her narrative with the kind of grace, bitter humor and rapier-sharp realness that will dig deep into a reader's heart and refuse to let go. Sophie is wounded terribly, but she's also funny, fresh and utterly believable. There's nary a moment of triteness in this outstanding debut. Agent, Laurie Fox. (Apr.) Forecast: With a 100,000-copy printing, a low price point, a huge publicity push and blurbs from Jennifer Weiner and Billie Letts, this should hit the lists. Book Sense pick for March/April. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

"I truly, madly, deeply loved her book...I devoured this book, tears of laughter mixing with tears of sorrow, over and over again, often in the space of a single's not just good grief, it's great grief."

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