At The Breakers: A Novel

At The Breakers: A Novel

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by Mary Ann Taylor-Hall
     
 

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Literary fiction has presented readers with centuries of memorable women in trouble. Here, the author of the widely praised and beloved Come and Go, Molly Snow, Kentucky novelist Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, offers Jo Sinclair, a long-term single parent of four children. Fleeing an abusive relationship, she winds up in Sea Cove, New Jersey, in front of The Breakers, a

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Overview

Literary fiction has presented readers with centuries of memorable women in trouble. Here, the author of the widely praised and beloved Come and Go, Molly Snow, Kentucky novelist Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, offers Jo Sinclair, a long-term single parent of four children. Fleeing an abusive relationship, she winds up in Sea Cove, New Jersey, in front of The Breakers, a salty old hotel in the process of renovation. In this unlikely setting, Jo finds a way to renovate herself, to reclaim the promising life that was derailed by pregnancy when she was fourteen. She impulsively convinces the owner to give her a job painting the rooms and settles in with her youngest child, thirteen-year-old Nick. A grand cast of characters wanders through this little world, among them Iris Zephyr, the hotel's ninety-two-year-old permanent boarder; Charlie, a noble mixed breed dog; Wendy, Jo's tough eighteen-year-old daughter, who has suffered most from her mother's past mistakes; Marco, the nearby gas station owner, who bids fair to become her mother's next mistake. Soon Victor Mangold, Jo's former teacher, a well-known and exuberant poet, arrives on the premises to stir everything up, including Jo's yearning for a life of art and committed love. At The Breakers is a deeply felt and beautifully written novel about forgiveness and reconciliation. Its heroine, put through the fire, comes out with a chance for happiness, if she can muster the faith, courage, and optimism to take that chance.

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Editorial Reviews

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" —

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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813125428
Publisher:
University Press of Kentucky
Publication date:
03/06/2009
Series:
Kentucky Voices
Edition description:
1
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

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