Close Relations

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Overview

Close Relations is a compelling novel written by the Bestselling author of Shining Through. It is a book that says something very important about the things that are vital...men and women, sex, money, work, family values and about what we need most in today's world...close relations.

Reissued to coincide with Isaacs' Magic Hour. What kind of well-bred young woman divorces a doctor and goes to work in politics? And why would she live with an Irishman who will probably...

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Overview

Close Relations is a compelling novel written by the Bestselling author of Shining Through. It is a book that says something very important about the things that are vital...men and women, sex, money, work, family values and about what we need most in today's world...close relations.

Reissued to coincide with Isaacs' Magic Hour. What kind of well-bred young woman divorces a doctor and goes to work in politics? And why would she live with an Irishman who will probably leave and never come back? Marcia Green isn't looking for commitment or a nice Jewish lawyer who is every mother's dream. Yet, as mothers everywhere say, you never know.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061099472
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/28/1992
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 416

Meet the Author

Susan Isaacs

Susan Isaacs is the bestselling author of eleven novels, two screenplays, and one work of nonfiction. She lives on Long Island.

Biography

Susan Isaacs, novelist, essayist and screenwriter, was born in Brooklyn and educated at Queens College. After leaving school, she worked as an editorial assistant at Seventeen magazine. In 1968, Susan married Elkan Abramowitz, a then a federal prosecutor. She became a senior editor at Seventeen but left in 1970 to stay home with her newborn son, Andrew. Three years later, she gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth. During this time she freelanced, writing political speeches as well as magazine articles. Elkan became a criminal defense lawyer.

In the mid-seventies, Susan got the urge to write a novel. A year later she began working on what was to become Compromising Positions, a whodunit set on suburban Long Island. It was published in 1978 by Times Books and was chosen a main selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club. Her second novel, Close Relations, a love story set against a background of ethnic, sexual and New York Democratic politics (thus a comedy), was published in 1980 by Lippincott and Crowell and was a selection of the Literary Guild. Her third, Almost Paradise, was published by Harper & Row in 1984, and was a Literary Guild main selection; in this work Susan used the saga form to show how the people are molded not only by their histories, but also by family fictions that supplant truth. All of Susan's novels have been New York Times bestsellers. Her fiction has been translated into thirty languages.

In 1985, she wrote the screenplay for Paramount's Compromising Positions, which starred Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. She also wrote and co-produced Touchstone Pictures' Hello Again. The 1987 comedy starred Shelley Long and Judith Ivey.

Her fourth novel, Shining Through, set during World War II, was published by Harper & Row in 1988. Twentieth-Century Fox's film adaptation starred Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith. Her fifth book, Magic Hour, a coming-of-middle-age novel as well as a mystery, was published in January 1991. After All These Years was published in 1993; critics lauded it for its strong and witty protagonist. Lily White came out in 1996 and Red, White and Blue in 1998. All the novels were published by HarperCollins and were main selections of the Literary Guild. In 1999, Susan's first work of nonfiction, Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing on Page and Screen, was published by Ballantine's Library of Contemporary Thought. During 2000, she wrote a series of columns on the presidential campaign for Newsday. Long Time No See, a Book of the Month Club main selection, was published in September 2001; it was a sequel to Compromising Positions. Susan's tenth novel is Any Place I Hang My Hat (2004).

Susan Isaacs is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The Creative Coalition, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Adams Round Table. She sits on the boards of the Queens College Foundation, the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Association, the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and is an active member of her synagogue. She has worked to gather support for the National Endowment of the Arts' Literature Program and has been involved in several anti-censorship campaigns. In addition to writing books, essays and films, Susan has reviewed books for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Newsday and written about politics, film and First Amendment issues. She lives on Long Island with her husband.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Isaacs:

"My first job was wrapping shoes in a shoe store in the low-rent district of Fifth Avenue and saying ‘Thank you!' with a cheery smile. I got canned within three days for not wrapping fast enough, although I suspect that often my vague, future-novelist stare into space while thinking about sex or lunch did not give me a smile that would ring the bell on the shoe store's cheer-o-meter."

"I constantly have to fight against the New York Effect, an overwhelming urge to wear black clothes so everyone will think, Egad, isn't she chic and understated! I'm not, by nature, a black-wearing person. (I'm not, by nature, a chic person either.) I like primary colors as well as bright purple, loud chartreuse, and shocking pink. And that's just my shoes."

"I'm not a great fan of writing classes. Yes, they do help people sometimes, especially with making them write regularly. But the aspiring writer can be a delicate creature, sensitive or even oversensitive to criticism. I was that way: I still am. The problem begins with most people's natural desire to please. In a classroom situation, especially one in which the work will be read aloud or critiqued in class, the urge to write something likable or merely critic-proof can dam up your natural talent. Also, it keeps you from developing the only thing you have is a writer -- your own voice. Finally, you don't know the people in a class well enough to figure out where their criticism is coming from. A great knowledge of literature? Veiled hostility? The talent is too precious a commodity to risk handing it over to strangers."

"Writing is sometimes an art, and it certainly is a craft. But it's also a job. I go to work five or six days a week (depending how far along I am with my work-in-progress). Like most other people, there are days I would rather be lying in a hammock reading or going to a movie with a friend. But whether you're an artist or an accountant, you still have to show up at work. Otherwise, it is unlikely to get done."

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    1. Hometown:
      Sands Point, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 7, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      Honorary Doctorate, Queens College
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt



My family hated my job. Aunt Estelle had said, "Darling, politics is so unlike you. All those loudmouths and lower-class lawyers. They're beneath you. I know deep down you realize it."
'Roosevelt was a politician. So was Kennedy--Harriman.
"Marcia, sweetheart, they were statesmen. We're talking New York City now, and you know as well as I do that no one you come in contact with is interested in real elegance."
As usual, my mother had let a refined sigh escape through the delicate hole in her pursed lips and then had noted that I seemed to spend a lot of time catering to people in slums.
Uncle Julius had muttered that politicians wouldn't know a nice girl if they fell over her.
Cousin Barbara was thrilled that I was fulfilled but hinted I might combine my career with marriage and children for even deeper fufflilment.
It was a situation from which half-hour television comedies are made. 'Marcia! In tonight's episode, Marcia Green's warm and winning and wise and wonderful Jewish family reminds her that she is thirty-five, divorced, and childless."
It would have been a veritable laff riot except that it was my life they were criticizing. They belittled every choice I had made by myself.
That job. Who does she think she is, Miss Last Hurrah, chasing around with all those Democrats, getting older and older and her uterus shriveling to the size of a walnut so she can be guaranteed not to have a family and live a normal life? And her apartment, up four flights of stairs like she was an immigrant, in the middle of Greenwich Village, with weirdos and women who don't shave under their arms for neighbors.
And him. Can you believe what she's involved with? Therewould be howls of laughter on the sound track as they schemed to drag still another eligible man across my life, trying to pry me away from him. Can you believe her, divorcing a very fine third-year medical student, running around Manhattan like she was a wild Indian, and then winding up living with an Irishman from the Bronx old enough to be a lot older than she is? We'll find her a real boyfriend. The camera would pan to a smiling Aunt Estelle. Before the commercial, there would be an ethnic joke about beer cans and perhaps a line or two about bloodshot eyes.
Ha! Such a life our girl Marcia is living.
Jerry Morrissey's eyes were not bloodshot. They were clear, framed with a heavy fringe of dark lashes. And while he sipped an occasional beer, he was quite elegant. Late on that morning when everything began happening, a lock of his thick black hair fell over his forehead and it looked tasteful and quite wonderful, as if styled by a Hollywood hairdresser for a fast take of vulnerable dishevelment. He brushed it away gracefully .
He spoke nicely too. Listen, if you're hungry, you can grab a hot dog at the stand over there. The governor probably won't be here for another fifteen minutes."
"I'll wait till after the rally." I remained close to Jerry. 'Anyway, I saw those hot dogs and they're really an unhealthy-looking pink. They look like they'd bite back."
'Well, it's a tough city, sweetheart."
Across from us, a handbill stuck under the windshield wiper of a parked car flapped in an unusually gentle winter wind. I couldn't read it, but I could guess what it said: THE BOROUGH OF QUEENS SAlLUTES GOVERNoR GRESHAM! There would be fifteen sentences about the rally, fourteen followed by exclamation points.
"Morrissey! Marcia!" William Paterno, President of the Council of the City of New York, climbed from the leather softness of his official car and hurried toward us. His legs were short and his feet small, but he moved fast, doing two steps for a longer-limbed man's one. "Gresham's motorcade just went through Long Island City. He should be here in ten-fifteen minutes." Paterno's expression was sour. 'Crazy," he went on, "the governor calling a rally outdoors in the middle of February, just to say hello to people. You'll see, five thousand people will come, a third catch cold and blame it on him and vote Republican next November. Gresham's nuts."
Jerry offered him a diplomatic shrug. I offered the truth: 'They love him. Did you see the crowd? It's huge." Jerry glanced away while Paterno glanced at me, dyspeptic. Then I added, "He's unbeatable."
Well, he was.
If James d'Avonne Gresham had only listened to his nanny's lectures on table manners, he would still be governor of New York. Small bites, James. Chew thoroughly. Slow-ly. We're in no hurry. But he was, after all, a politician, so someplace between his first meeting of the New York County Independent Democrats--where he quickly made his mark as the only person in the room not shrieking--and his first race for State Assembly, James dA. Gresham began tear-assing around. His nanny would have deemed it highly unseemly. Members of the leisure class do not dash from a Fifth Avenue penthouse to inappropriate parts of Brooklyn to lunch with Negroes. Nor do they seek the counsel of Jews who have not yet learned to lower their voices. Rather, they sit in law firms and banks and nod to each other. They remain calm. And despite the occasional deviant, the aberrant Roosevelt, they do not become Democrats .
I could be nothing but a Democrat, although my mother attempted to instill good breeding in me post partum. "Marcia, a lady dips her soup spoon away from her." While Governor Gresham's grandfather began crewing at Princeton, mine spent twenty dollars to change his name from Isadore Greenbaum to IS. Green. Alas, by the time Grandpa Gresham entered Harvard Law School, Grandpa Green had been rolling hems on ladies' better coats for three years; two years later, he moved up to finishing collars, and that was as high as he got. Close Relations. Copyright © by Susan Isaacs. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fine character study

    In New York City, Marcia Green is a successful political speechwriter. However, her family, instead of marveling at her success, loathe her job that her mom and aunt believe interferes with her meeting a nice Jewish dentist to marry and bear grandchildren. Just because she is thirty five, divorced from Barry Plotnick and happy with her work and sex with Jerry Morrisey are irrelevant to her mom and aunt. They cannot understand how Marcia can live with someone whose DNA runs towards boiled potatoes instead of appreciation of the fine art of a knish.

    However, when Marcia meets her Mr. Perfect, she wants to run away before her family stalk him. David Hoffman is affluent, handsome and intelligent as expected of a Harvard Law School Graduate; but his greatest trait besides not mentioning his alma mater is his fearlessness when he enters the Green family jungle. As he falls in love, she remains in a state of "Definitely, Maybe" denial.

    This is an entertaining reprint of a 1980 fine character study although the support cast consisting of her family and co-workers are purposely hyperbole stereotypes. Marcia is marvelous as her professional life is perfect (at least she says so) and her personal life a mess (at lest her mom says so). When David enters her life, he nukes her feelings as she reconsiders what she wants in a man looking back to Forest Hills HS and her crush on Barry for guidance. Fans will enjoy this pre-Twitter era tale with a touch of chick lit before that became fashionable.

    Harriet Klausner

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