The New York Times Book Review
Awaiting Grace: A Novelby Rosanne Daryl Thomas
Sheila Jericault is the ambitious campaign manager for a ruthless Connecticut politician, a young woman far too busy to know that her soul is in danger. But God knows, and it is God who narrates her story. With both irritation and affection, God sees that Sheila has turned away from life and love, sacrificing her soul in pursuit of success. After a brush with death… See more details below
Sheila Jericault is the ambitious campaign manager for a ruthless Connecticut politician, a young woman far too busy to know that her soul is in danger. But God knows, and it is God who narrates her story. With both irritation and affection, God sees that Sheila has turned away from life and love, sacrificing her soul in pursuit of success. After a brush with death, her life is saved, but she knows she must change, and she vows to 'do good.' To this end, she frees Kiri, a Sri Lankan slave girl indentured to wealthy diplomats, and promptly congratulates herself on a job well done. But doing good is not that simple, and now she has an illegal alien in her house and another life to look after, and her efforts to get Kiri off her hands and out in the real world yield decidedly mixed results. Just when Sheila thinks she's found the answer, Kiri makes plain that she has other plans, and Sheila is a part of them. Sheila is confused, and she is struggling. But at least, at last, her soul is alive.
The author of The Angel Carver returns with a story rich in humor and insight, a thoroughly delightful, utterly original novel about life and love and faith.
The New York Times Book Review
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.46(w) x 8.62(h) x 1.01(d)
Read an Excerpt
Being what You would most probably identify as a god, or God, depending upon your point of view, I am often tired at the end of the day and want nothing more than to enfold myself in the great and glittering nothingness, or everythingness, again depending on your point of view, of the all-changing eternal.
Nonetheless, I know your circumstances are difficult at best. You are ceaselessly vain, but at times I bear more fondness for You than You do for yourselves. This may be my own bit of pride. For I see the divinity within You and honor that by employing the capital letter that connotes the divine in your languages. And yet, You separate yourself from Me and mine. You prefer, perhaps out of modesty or fearembracing the divine in oneself leads to more mystery than certaintyto use the lowercase, spurning the spark and the implications of that big Y. Never mind. I shall not quibble. In this instance, I defer to your mortal conventions to avoid the distraction of a fuss. I know you feel burdened and do not need additional worry. More than the most excruciatingly rare and delicate members of Creation, humankind seems to need constant tending and care. Certainly more than I am inclined to give. I've never been much of a nurturer in the conventional sense. Even so, from time to time for my own reasons, which, for all you know, may be either idle ones or important beyond human comprehension, I find myself taking a rather direct interest in certain individuals.
Sheila Jericault was one of these.
Sheila was blessed with eyes that matcheda clear sky on an autumn day, and with wavy hair, reddish gold, that shot sunlight back to the sun. Sheila was comely enough to count her looks among her advantages. She was not what you would call a saint, and I've seen worse sinners. Those are human values anyway, and I don't wish to distract myself with such fluid matters at present. What interested me about Miss Sheila Jericault was her soul.
Poor Sheila had lost it.
It's a common problem, but for reasons that will ultimately become clear to you or not, as you wish, Sheila caught my eye. Like many a mortal, Sheila Jericault did not remember when or how she'd lost her soul. Her attention was elsewhere. But she did know exactly when she discovered it missing.
We'll get to that.
At thirty, Sheila Jericault was still unaware of her loss, and rather than feeling barren in spirit, she was feeling gleeful and godlike, particularly within her sphere. Without the slightest humility or doubt, Sheila believed she was orchestrating a minor miracle within the world of politics, which was, at the time, the world she cared most about.
A decent and likable Episcopalian named Ed Gilman had served his district as Representative for as long as anyone cared to remember. Everyone loved him and voted for him every two years and that was that, and that was just fine.
Until Sheila and until the candidate upon whose behalf Sheila's personal miracle was being worked: Kip Coxx. Kip Coxx matters to my story, and perhaps to you yourself in the exceedingly grand and interconnected scheme of things, and thus you ought to know a bit about him. Mr. Kip Coxx was one of those men best defined by what he wanted. For instance: He was a lawyer turned real estate developer who wanted to win a congressional seat. Why? Because he wanted to. Kip also wanted a pretty wife who would be undemandingly devoted and helpful to him in his career. Early on, he found such a woman in the former Miss Polly Fayerweather. Mrs. Polly Coxx was an ideal candidate's wife, pretty enough to be quite pleasing but not pretty enough to alienate the voters who were not themselves possessed of inspiring pulchritude. She'd never had any tricky business dealings and she kept her opinions to herself, so no one had any easy reason to think ill of her. Yet. Polly and Kip had freckle-faced twin boys, Kippy Junior and Chip. The boys were polite and photogenic and knew how to keep reasonably clean without looking like sissies. And thanks to nature's extraordinary timing, Kip had even more going his way. On July Fourth Polly had gone into an early labor and pushed a third son into the world in time for the evening news: George Washington Coxx.
You might think that Kip was especially blessed by me or one of my ilk, but he wasn't. We, and I think I can speak for most of my colleagues in this instance, are almost entirely indifferent to politicians and scornful of those who presume to speak in our various names. If Coxx was blessed at all, he was blessed by luck and Sheila Jericault.
Sheila's job as Kip's campaign manager was to take this ambitious piece of flesh and mold him into a viable candidate. As I have said, she was aware that she had done a fine job. She wasn't the only one who considered her artistry more than a nifty feat. She was proud of her idea to make it a major campaign point that Coxx spoke for himself. Loudly, he decried spokesmen and handlers and the usual political rigmarole. Voters liked him for it because they wanted to believe a man could be all his own man and still run for office and win. Sheila knew that was a fairy tale, but she didn't care as long as voters believed it. Just as his phony independence was her idea, so was her own discretion. So often strategists not only ran the show, they were the show. Sheila avoided all that and worked at invisibility, the betteras a godlet, or faux-god, if you wishto illuminate the artificial creation she called The Real Kip Coxx. Officially, only Coxx spoke for Coxx. Unofficially, it was Sheila who put the words in his mouth and, for the umpteen-millionth time in the history of politics, coined Coxx's slogan: Time for a change.
And what a gem that was. "Time for a change," Kip said on the radio. "Time for a change," he said on the stump. "Time for a change," he said on TV as, young and tanned, a vision of possibility, he stood beside Polly and Kippy, Chip, and chubby-cheeked, pink, and smooth baby George, who could not tell a lie. "Time for a change. Time for a change," he said, holding George and a fluffy white diaper as he reeled in the women's vote. "Time for a change," he said, and he said it a lot. And although Ed Gilman's contented constituents had no strong reason or desire to contemplate changing something that worked so wonderfully well for so many, Sheila's magic words had been spoken.
And the spell took.
Soon, for no tangible reason, the public seemed to agree that yes, indeed, it was time for a change. Reaching for the nearest thing, as humans are apt to do, they came to believe that Kip Coxx was just the man to bring this desirable yet undefined change about. And, in a peculiar way, he was. Just not at all in the way Sheila, much less the public, or humankind as I prefer to call them, expected.
What People are saying about this
"With sexy panache, Rosanne Daryl Thomas introduces the U.S. to homegrown magical realism. Awaiting Grace is charmed, elegant, wicked, and hilarious." --Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, author of An American Killing
Eli Gottlieb, author of The Boy who Went Away
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