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3.3 10
by Emily Gray Tedrowe

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"Tedrowe explores the reconfigurations of a family and the strange alliances that can occur between young and old, love and work. And she writes brilliantly about money…. A deeply satisfying debut." —Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

“A poignant meditation on desire, heartrending loss, and dreams deferred.”


"Tedrowe explores the reconfigurations of a family and the strange alliances that can occur between young and old, love and work. And she writes brilliantly about money…. A deeply satisfying debut." —Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

“A poignant meditation on desire, heartrending loss, and dreams deferred.” —Robin Antalek, author of The Summer We Fell Apart

Emily Tedrowe’s exceptional debut novel depicts the shockwaves set in motion by the sudden marriage of one middle-class family’s 78-year-old matriarch to a wealthy outsider. Commuters is that rare novel that offers something for almost everyone: “foodies” interested in exploring the rich tapestry of the New York City restaurant scene; the millions who have been profoundly affected by the current financial and mortgage crisis; or anyone simply looking for a beautifully drawn family drama in the vein of the works of Katrina Kittle (The Blessings of the Animals, Two Truths and a Lie) and Jennifer Haigh (The Condition, Baker Towers, Mrs. Kimble).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Well into their 70s, Winnie McClelland and wealthy Jerry Trevis have fallen in love, causing consternation among their extended family. Jerry’s daughter, Annette, in particular, feels financially threatened when her newlywed father moves from Chicago to a small town in New York State, where he’s purchased the largest, most ostentatious house in Hartfield for his bride; worried that her inheritance might go to Winnie’s family, Annette sues to freeze her father’s assets. Meanwhile, Winnie’s daughter, Rachel, has asked her new stepfather for a sizable loan to help deal with her ill husband’s overwhelming health-care bills. Annette’s son, Avery, a recovering drug addict and promising young chef, is also looking to Jerry for the resources to start up his own restaurant. Further conflict arises from Winnie’s plans to cut down a historic tree for a new front-yard swimming pool, a move that threatens to alienate the entire town. Tedrowe exhibits some beginner’s awkwardness in her debut, particularly in her self-conscious euphemisms for septuagenarian sex, but shows great promise in her compassionate, nuanced depiction of love—among the old and young alike—and her confident handling of alternating, multigenerational narrators. (July)
Patrick Somerville
“So fantastic. This is the kind of book you would imagine Virginia Woolf might write were she with us is the 21st century: relevant and contemporary, relentlessly funny, deeply insightful, and fearless in its exploration of people’s private lives.”
Kirkus Reviews
Love and money struggle for control of a modern family's affections. In her wonderfully cohesive debut novel, short-story writer Tedrowe graduates to elegant novelist with a winding, convincing familial drama about the ties that bind and the bonds that bend to the breaking point. The book opens on a small-town wedding in June, the stuff that rural newspapers love, as 78-year-old Winifred Easton McClelland prepares herself for marriage to powerful Chicago mogul Jerry Trevis. From her first steps into the story, Winnie is the most winning member of a multifaceted cast, a widow who has found love in the winter of her life. "She was marrying a man for the delicious and wicked and simple reason that she wanted to," Tedrowe writes. Jerry, too, is a splendid fiction, a stubborn old rogue with a soft spot for his girl and her challenging children, but one with a mean streak when it comes to his own rebellious offspring. Jerry's wealth and his old age soon inject chaos into this very extended family. Who stands to lose? First and foremost, Jerry's daughter Annette, who launches a power struggle with her father for control of the business empire. The mogul shows a soft spot for Winnie's daughter, Rachel, whose acceptance of a loan from her new stepfather only serves to hide the failures of her lazy and financially incompetent husband. But no one stands to gain more than Jerry's grandson Avery, who reminds the old man of his lost brother so much that the recovering addict and high-rolling chef stands to get it all. Tedrowe unfurls all of this familiar, troubled interplay via the perspective of a specific character in each chapter, and while Avery garners an unfair share of the spotlight, the author's deft handling of a large and distinctive cast should win raves from those who revel in this sort of ensemble crazy quilt. A lovely and literate family drama that wins bonus points for its sincerity and open-hearted delivery.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Meet the Author

Emily Gray Tedrowe lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters. Her short fiction has appeared in Other Voices and the Crab Orchard Review. Commuters is her first novel.

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Commuters: A Novel 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this novel. I was amazed at how quickly I became invested in the fates of the three narrators. I got caught up in their stories from the very first pages of this novel, rooting for things to go right for them and cringing when they made bad choices. Tedrowe's seamless transitions -- from Avery (a 20-something ex-addict), to Rachel (a 40-something wife and mother), to Winnie (the 78-year-old whose second wedding launches the novel) -- are impressive. Her ability to tell the story through these three very different voices makes this a novel for readers of all ages and genders. Tedrowe is adept at making her readers feel the awkwardness, dislocation, sadness, fear, envy and embarrassment that her characters experience at different points of the novel -- but she is also very generous with second chances. Commuters is an engrossing read and there were passages where Tedrowe's beautiful writing really took my breath away. I wholeheartedly recommend this novel.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful family story on many levels. I really enjoyed that the focus of the book was a couple that were more mature and had extensive family. All those relatives provided engaging story lines and the elderly couple's story was at encouraging and heartbreaking all in one read. I enjoyed it immensely and recommended it to my book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But certainly not the best either. It drags on and on in some areas, but then seems to skim over interesting information.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
In Commuters, Emily Gray Tedrowe explores a topic rarely discussed, that of love found by the elderly and the complications a late second marriage entails. Winnie McClelland is seventy-eight on her wedding day; Jerry Travis a few years older. Winnie has lived in the same commuter town outside New York City her entire life; Jerry is a successful businessman who is very wealthy. Neither expected to be lucky enough to find love again at their age. Nor did they expect the complications and joys that would arise from their union. As in all second marriages, the children of the first marriage have a major adjustment to make. Winnie's daughter, Rachel, also lives in town. Rachel's family has had major life adjustments after her husband is in a horrific accident that leaves him in a coma for several weeks and needing major rehabilitation afterwards. Now she has to adjust to her diminished role as her mother's confidant and advisor. Jerry's daughter, Annette, is adamantly against the marriage and regards Winnie as a gold digger, only after Jerry's money. She ups the ante by suing her father for control of the business he has built and left in her charge. Annette's son, Avery, has had little contact with his grandfather. But he is now on his own in New York, and develops a relationship with both Jerry and Winnie. He is starting out in many ways. He has just found a new love, Nona, and is feeling his way towards a career as a chef. For the first time in his life, he is feeling the comfort and reassurance of an accepting family life. All the characters react in different fashions as Jerry's health deteriorates, and these reactions make up the second half of the book. Emily Tedrowe explores what it means to get older and what is important to us as we age. She delves into family relationships and the difficulties that they bring along with the joy. This book is recommended for all readers. The characters are vibrant, and the reader will remember them long after the book is put away. The topic is one that many readers will encounter, either as the participant in an older love relationship, or as the child of someone in the situation. Commuters gives guidance and hope; an uplifting book that lyrically explores the facets of love and family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Septuagenarians Winnie McClelland and Jerry Trevis fall in love. Their respective families are not happy with this development, but his goes viral when he leaves his affluent Chicago home to move in with his love in Hartfield in Upstate New York. His daughter Annette fears Winnie and her crew will inherit her father's fortune so she sues to take control of his vast assets. Her daughter Rachel pleads with her new wealthy stepfather to pay off the enormous loan she took out to cover her ailing spouse's health-care costs that threaten to bankrupt them. His grandson Chef Avery, a recovering drug addict, asks his grandfather to fund a new restaurant he wants to open. Meanwhile in their grandiose mansion, the newlyweds anger the townsfolk when Winnie considers removing a historical tree to make way for a swimming pool; money will not buy temporary loyalty this time. This is excellent family drama as the younger generations see the geriatric pair as money and not a human couple. Ironically, Winnie and Jerry add to that belief by their approach to the locals in which money has always bought Trevis loyalty. The various members of the McClelland and Trevis families rotate narration so that the audience understands what each perceives are threats when the elderly duet marry; changing what has been the status quo dynamics for quite awhile. Except for the sex scenes between the newlyweds that fail to flow freely but instead come across as a forced attempt to make a point, readers will enjoy the discerning Commuters. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For subcombos multi genre multi plots with flash backs and time changes or a grand minus super star for mish mosh. In math i never did figure out why a minus number though i took a college remedial algerba because i wanted to