At The Breakers: A Novel

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"Soon or a little too lateeverything you never knewyou always wanted turns uphereat The Breakers" — from the book In her new novel At The Breakers, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, author of the widely praised and beloved Come and Go, Molly Snow, presents Jo Sinclair, a longtime single mother of four children. Fleeing an abusive relationship after a shocking attack, Jo finds herself in Sea Cove, New Jersey, in front of The Breakers, a salty old hotel in the process of renovation. Impulsively, she negotiates a job painting the guest rooms and settles in with ...

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Overview

"Soon or a little too lateeverything you never knewyou always wanted turns uphereat The Breakers" — from the book In her new novel At The Breakers, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, author of the widely praised and beloved Come and Go, Molly Snow, presents Jo Sinclair, a longtime single mother of four children. Fleeing an abusive relationship after a shocking attack, Jo finds herself in Sea Cove, New Jersey, in front of The Breakers, a salty old hotel in the process of renovation. Impulsively, she negotiates a job painting the guest rooms and settles in with her youngest child, thirteen-year-old Nick. As each room is transformed under brush and roller, Jo finds a way to renovate herself, reclaiming a promising life derailed by pregnancy and a forced marriage at age fourteen. Jo's new life at the hotel features a memorable mix of locals and guests, among them Iris Zephyr, the hotel's ninety-two-year-old permanent boarder; Charlie, a noble mixed-breed dog; Marco, owner of a nearby gas station/liquor store, who may become Jo's next mistake; and enigmatic Wendy, her streetwise eighteen-year-old daughter, who signs on as housekeeper. Irrepressible Victor Mangold, Jo's former professor and a well-known poet some twenty years her senior, invites himself to Thanksgiving dinner and into her life, his passion awakening Jo's yearning for art and love. At The Breakers is a deeply felt and beautifully written novel about forgiveness and reconciliation. In Jo's words, she is "trying to find the right way to live" as a long-suffering woman who is put through the fire and emerges with a chance at a full, rich life for herself and her children, if only she has the faith to take it.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
In Taylor-Hall's long-awaited second novel (Come and Go, Molly Snow, 1995), a single mother flees an abusive boyfriend and finds life-healing respite in a quaint seashore hotel. Jo, whose sorry track record with men began at age 14 when, pregnant, she had to drop out of high school to get married, is now finally back on track at age 42. While waitressing double shifts in New Brunswick, N.J., she's managed to complete her bachelor's degree over nine years and has writerly ambitions. Her four children-the oldest is 28-have three different fathers. Most troubled is daughter Wendy, 18, a mercurial neobohemian right out of Rent. Jo never learned what happened during the three weeks Wendy went missing at age 14. (Wendy refused to talk about it after a private detective rescued her.) Jo's latest boyfriend Hank, a trucking executive, has domineering tendencies she unwisely ignores. After a too-brief birthday lunch with Wendy in New York City, Jo runs into whimsical, 60-ish, symbolically named Victor Mangold, her former writing professor. Their innocent flirtation is observed by a friend of Hank's. Hank accuses Jo of infidelity and rapes her. Traumatized and terrified, Jo escapes to The Breakers, on the Jersey shore, where she earns a hotel manager job by helping with renovations. Among the hotel's denizens are the usual charming eccentrics, including a 92-year-old former stripper and a genteel Russian viola player. A winsome younger gas-station owner almost thrusts her into another no-win blue-collar liaison. But Victor lures Jo back to Manhattan. Then an alarm sounds from The Breakers: Wendy is about to marry Jean-Luc, a gay Haitian musician, to help him get a green card. What begins as awoman-in-jeopardy plot shifts focus, as the Hank stalking threat simply dissipates. Except for the disclosure of Wendy's harrowing secret, the second half of the book, dominated by the impossibly sprightly Victor, is pleasant but predictable. Taylor-Hall's incisive, witty prose redeems potentially mawkish material.
From the Publisher
"At the Breakers presents a complex, often mystifying look at someone hoping to overcome past mistakes. Author Taylor-Hall... skillfully rides the contour of human emotions to provide a story of a character we really want to succeed." —Steve Flairty, Kentucky Monthly" —
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813125428
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 3/6/2009
  • Series: Kentucky Voices
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Ann Taylor-Hall is a recipient of the Barnes & Noble "Discover Great New Writers" award. and the author of How She Knows What She Knows About Yo-yos (Sarabande), which received Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year Award, and Come and Go, Molly Snow (Norton). She is the recipient of a PEN/Syndicated Fiction Award and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 11, 2009

    Chick lit...

    The Breakers<BR/>(Kentucky Voices)<BR/>Mary Ann Taylor-Hall<BR/>University Press of Kentucky, 2009<BR/>ISBN: 0813125421<BR/>Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 2/09<BR/>3 stars<BR/>Chick lit¿<BR/>We all make mistakes, and Jo Sinclair made her share. The single mother of several children has wandered from one bad relationship to another. She has several children, but her daughter, Wendy, seems the most affected by her mother¿s bad decisions. In an effort to escape an abusive boyfriend, Jo traveled to the New Jersey shore. She found herself at The Breakers, an old hotel being renovated by the owner. She took on the monumental task of painting the interior. Various characters enter the picture at this point. As the Breakers was renovated, so was Jo¿s life. She begins to reform herself into a person she can be proud of.<BR/>This book would make a great movie. I quickly became wrapped up in Jo¿s life--even if I wasn¿t sure I liked her. However, I was still bothered by some of her decisions. I wasn¿t sure she had truly grown up. There were several errors in this book that a good editor should have caught. I chose this book, because it was written by a Kentucky author. Mary Ann Taylor-Hall has great potential, but The Breakers fell a little short of the goal.

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