Alice Fantastic

Alice Fantastic

5.0 1
by Maggie Estep

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Maggie Estep's best novel to date explores (with deep wit and insight) how a shocking family secret impacts the lives of an eccentric mother and her two daughters.See more details below


Maggie Estep's best novel to date explores (with deep wit and insight) how a shocking family secret impacts the lives of an eccentric mother and her two daughters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Estep's entertaining fifth novel features three women-half-sisters Alice and Eloise and their ex-junkie mother, Kimberly-navigating relationships, a half-dozen lovers and innumerable dogs. Alice, the elder sister, is a professional gambler and prefers to keep an emotional distance from her lovers. Things go wrong, however, when she attempts to shake off her latest boyfriend, Clayton; to her dismay, she finds she cares for "the big oaf." Meanwhile, Eloise, whose boyfriend recently died, gets involved with the glamorous actress Ava Larkin, whom Kimberly met while walking some of the 17 rescued dogs she shelters. After Alice discovers a secret that Kimberly has been harboring, she and her sister are confronted with the need to transform their apparently coldhearted ways. Unfortunately, as the novel progresses, it loses the witty energy of its zinger first chapter, and, as compared to Estep's adventuresome characters, the conventional nature of Kimberly's secret disappoints. Nevertheless, Estep (Hex) captures the wily spirit of a woman more inclined to give her heart to a dog than to another person. (May)

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Library Journal

In this engaging novel, Estep, a poet and poetry jam performer and author of the Ruby Murphy mystery series (e.g., Flamethrower), peeks into the lives of three women, their lovers, and their dogs. Alice, mid-thirties and a professional gambler, is trying to break up with Clayton, her big oaf of a boyfriend who just won't take a hint. Her younger half-sister, Eloise, a designer of stuffed animals, is recovering from the sudden death of her lover, a trapeze instructor. She didn't like him all that much, but still.... Their mother, Kimberly, has been finding love with women lately, but her strongest attachment is to the injured and abandoned dogs she rescues, and she frequently foists dogs upon her daughters for fostering. The women were never close, but as the novel takes them through some action-packed months, with changes in lovers, assorted tragedies and mishaps, secrets uncovered, and an ever-changing cast of canines, they come to realize what they mean to one another and that maybe there are needs another human can fill better than a dog can. Edgy in parts, touching in others, but always entertaining.
—Debbie Bogenschutz

Kirkus Reviews
Family is open to definition for three wildly unconventional women, their assorted lovers and a pack of rescue dogs. Alice is a professional gambler, a loner with a serious knowledge of horseflesh. She's debating whether to kick her latest lover, Clayton (aka "the big oaf"), to the curb when he more or less accidentally kills someone. Alice's half-sister Eloise, both damaged and beautiful, makes strange stuffed animals that are only one manifestation of her curious intelligence. Their mother Kimberley could almost pass for the most normal of the three. A former wild girl, she is now living a clean and sober life in bucolic Woodstock, N.Y., where she looks after a motley assembly of unwanted dogs, several of which she palms off on her NYC-based daughters. When a series of crises brings Alice and Eloise to their mother's Catskills retreat, they find more than a few surprises. The previously lesbian Kimberley has taken up with a male neighbor. She's also started working for a local movie star, Ava, who takes a shine to the previously straight Eloise. Kimberley gives her daughters a shocker of a revelation that causes them to reconsider relationships and the few life plans they'd made. Estep (Flamethrower, 2006, etc.) brings her distinctive characters to lusty life with funny, profane prose. The emotional payoff, when it comes, is both warm and somehow wildly funny. Fresh and surprisingly real. Agent: Alex Glass/Trident Media Group

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Akashic Books
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