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Anybody Any Minute

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Overview

Ellen Kenny has a big mouth and a penchant for telling the truth, which is why she’s just been fired from yet another high-profile NYC job. Determined to make the most of this unexpected free time, she heads to Montreal to visit her sister. On the way, she spots a tumbledown upstate farmhouse—-one she’s seen in her dreams for years—-and impulsively buys it on a hefty credit card advance. Over her husband’s protests, Ellen decides to drop out of the rat race and spend the summer living out her ...

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Anybody Any Minute

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Overview

Ellen Kenny has a big mouth and a penchant for telling the truth, which is why she’s just been fired from yet another high-profile NYC job. Determined to make the most of this unexpected free time, she heads to Montreal to visit her sister. On the way, she spots a tumbledown upstate farmhouse—-one she’s seen in her dreams for years—-and impulsively buys it on a hefty credit card advance. Over her husband’s protests, Ellen decides to drop out of the rat race and spend the summer living out her woman-who-runs-with-the wolves fantasy, communing with nature—-her own included—-in an effort to confront middle age and figure out how on earth she got there. Rather than peacefully tend her garden and puzzle things out, however, Ellen soon becomes embroiled in the exceedingly unique problems of two redneck, social misfit neighbors—-an ex-biker and an aging chainsaw sculptor—-while taking care of a narcoleptic dog and a child who doesn’t speak English.

With Ellen’s quest for meaning and her concern for the welfare of others driving the plot, Anybody Any Minute is deeply layered, heartbreaking . . . and hilarious.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Anybody Any Minute

"Mars effectively navigates through the usual minefields of midlife regrets with her colorful and sympathetic characters. Funny and illuminating, this is a totally satisfying read." —Library Journal (starred review)

"In this charming coming-of-middle-age novel from Mars, a neurotic New Yorker loses her job and possibly her marriage when she buys a rundown country house...Whether she’s fretting about her weight or worrying if she is correctly quoting Kahlil Gibran, this ’60s survivor is a hoot." —Kirkus Reviews

"Julie Mars, a fast rising author, has hit the mark in her higgedy- piggledy account of Ellen Kenny's summertime, cleansing "nervous breakthrough" in Anybody Any Minute...I haven't read such a fun and engaging book in ages. I found myself turning the pages like crazy to keep up with Ellen's madcap misadventures...Julie Mars has a knack for making the inane seem totally believable. I loved Julie's previous, more serious book, A Month of Sundays, but was totally drawn into this one. Once again I found my dreams in the work of the very talented Julie Mars. I've passed my mid-life crises (I think), but for a moment I really wanted to check my credit card limit and head toward Cornwall. The reader can't lose with this one!" — Roundtable Reviews

"Anybody and Minute is deep without being onerous, a beautifully told tale of how lives that may appear on the surface to be falling apart are actually falling into place." —Chronogram Magazine

"...a warm and funny exploration of middle age and its inherent questioning of life and roles and possibilities...a singular, thoughtful, and poignant work that looks at crossroads, choices, and new definitions of responsibility. Julie Mars is to be commended for her fresh approach to midlife questioning and for the absolutely delightful cast of characters she has chosen to tell her tale. I loved this book! I laughed. I smiled. I wondered. Anybody Any Minute reveals the heart of human connectedness. Brava!" —Myshelf.com

"Part madcap picaresque, part nostalgic meditation, Anybody Any Minute takes on the regrets and readjustments of middle age, and delivers them up with Julie Mars’s trademark humor and gutsy style.”-

—Jennifer Egan, author of The Keep, The Invisible Circus, and Look at Me

“Readers will be thoroughly disarmed by Mars’s charming cast of characters, including heroine Ellen, who brings to mind Lucille Ball. I highly recommend this entertaining yet thought-provoking novel.”

—-Martha O’Connor, author of The Bitch Posse

Anybody Any Minute offers a sweet and funny meditation on the challenges of ‘doing good and being in love’ in modern America. Julie Mars and her main character, Ellen Kenny, remind us that sometimes we need to let go of the illusion of control in our lives in order to listen to the deeper wisdom of our dreams.”

—-Gayle Brandeis, author of Self Storage and The Book of Dead Birds

Publishers Weekly

Mars follows her memoir (A Month of Sundays) with a midlife crisis bildungsroman that is largely unexceptional, though not without charm. New Yorker Ellen Kenny, a 46-year-old ex-hippie, takes a side trip on the way to Montreal to visit her sister and impulsively buys a decrepit house with her credit card. This startles her husband, Tommy, and the effect that Ellen's sudden purchase has on their marriage encompasses the most interesting and touching parts of this novel. Less successful are Ellen's entanglements in her new small hometown: her friendships with two feuding local rednecks, Rayfield and Rodney; her temporary guardianship of her sister's son; and her strange dreams that inspired the house purchase and swirl with the secrets of everyone she knows. The narrative often resorts to silliness, camp (Rayfield nicknamed his obese ex-wife "Doublewide") and mood-spoiling stereotypes (Ellen's Peruvian brother-in-law, for instance, plays the pan flute on street corners). The clumsiness, however, does not entirely overwhelm the moments of sweetness and light humor, and though there's nothing that really sings, it's a passable story of self-discovery and self-improvement. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

While driving to Montreal to visit her sister, forty-something Ellen impetuously buys a farm in upstate New York, seemingly turning her back on both New York City and her lawyer husband. She takes up organic gardening and butts her way into the locals' lives. When her beloved sister suddenly must go to Peru, Ellen, who's deliberately avoided responsibility all her adult life, must care for her toddler nephew. Mars (The Secret Keepers) effectively navigates through the usual minefields of midlife regrets with her colorful and sympathetic characters. Funny and illuminating, this is a totally satisfying read.


—Teresa Jacobsen
Kirkus Reviews
In this charming coming-of-middle-age novel from Mars (The Secret Keepers, 2000, etc.), a neurotic New Yorker loses her job and possibly her marriage when she buys a rundown country house. Ellen Kenny still thinks of herself as a free spirit. But the young woman who skinny dipped on Cape Cod has turned into a nervous 40-something who was fired after speaking her mind. In her quest for "ipsissimus," the quality of being most herself, she acts on a whim, buying a ramshackle old house in upstate New York on the way to visit her more centered younger sister in Montreal. The house, which she views as a source of adventure, soon flips her life into crisis. Her straight-laced husband Tommy refuses to deal with it, and Ellen takes off alone, afraid that she has pushed him too far. In rural Eagle Beak, she finds bugs, dirt and eccentric locals, including the angry sculptor son of the house's late owner and an ex-biker neighbor, whose happiness seems permanently threatened by an unusual ailment. They in turn see her as an object of amusement. Gradually she learns to fit in and rediscovers her original, spontaneous self. When a crisis overcomes her sister, however, her newfound balance is tested. As she cares for her sister's toddler, as well as her quirky new family of choice, Ellen discovers a life that works for her. Mars leavens Ellen's potentially annoying idiosyncrasies with sly humor, and she revels in her heroine's '60s-cum-New Age mentality. "[S]he had raised the anchor and sailed away from her former self. She had left her baggage on the cosmic dock," Mars writes without irony. Whether she's fretting about her weight or worrying if she is correctly quoting Kahlil Gibran, this '60s survivoris a hoot. Agent: Joan Schweighardt/GreyCore Literary Services
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312378691
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/27/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Julie Mars us the author of The Secret Keepers and A Month of Sundays: Searching for the Spirit and My Sister, a Barnes & Noble Discover selection and a finalist for the Independent Press Memoir of the Year. She has published numerous shorter works of both fiction and nonfiction, and is the recipient of many awards including grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the New Jersey Arts Council. She lives in New Mexico.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2011

    Couldn't put it down!

    I wasn't sure if I would get into this book but I found myself anxiously awaiting to get home so that I could get back into the crazy world Ellen, the narrator, was living. I found myself laughing outloud (which I rarely do while reading) & thoroughly enjoyed every page turning experience. I was sad to see it end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2008

    Anybody Any Minute is a great read

    Julie Mars' latest book, 'Anybody, Any Minute' follows a middle aged New York woman on a journey to her authentic and accepting self. All women who are honest face this moment of truth sometime in middle age. Few face it as quirkily and crazily as Ellen Kenny. The story starts out fast and furious and never lets up - we glimpse ourselves and the person we might have been if we had followed our wildest impulses. If you like this story, read Mars' wonderful memoir, 'A Month of Sundays.' I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2008

    Have some fun and read this book!

    This is a great summer book. It's easy to read and it's hilarious, but it also deals with serious issues in a thoughtful way. It's original and unpredictable, and it's a page turner, too--the kind of book you can't put down from start to finish but then feel bad it's over.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    interesting character study

    In 1995, Manhattanite fortyish Ellen Kenny heads to Montreal to spend time with her sister Karen and her infant nephew Olivier. However, the former hippie stops in Eagle Beck, New York and on a whim buys a fixer upper house not occupied since 1988 all on a credit card. Her spouse of seventeen years Tommy is stunned when she calls to tell him. --- Ellen realizes that her purchase may have had a consequential side effect of devastating her marriage, but feels she did the right thing. However as she tries to become part of the small town, Ellen feels like an outsider even though she becomes friends with the local Hatfield and McCoy, feuding Rayfield and Rodney while Olivier is living with her for now. --- This interesting character study looks deep at a disenchanted middle aged woman who finds her current secure life unsatisfactory and makes a whimsical spur of the moment decision to capture what she feels she lost but could cost her marriage with Oliver. When the tale focuses on Ellen¿s relationships with her husband, sister, and nephew, the subplot is powerful and emotional. When the novel turns humorous with her being pulled by the feuding duo and other locals the story line is more amusing but dissipates some of its steam. Still this is a fine look at a former hippie turned middle class trying to regain the idealism of her lost youth paradise, but the reality does not always match the memory. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted September 14, 2011

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    Posted May 3, 2011

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    Posted June 29, 2010

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    Posted March 12, 2012

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