Confessions of a Contractor

( 13 )

Overview

Selected as a "sizzling beach read" by the New York Daily News, Richard Murphy's debut novel explains what it really means to be a full-service contractor.

Henry Sullivan has spent seventeen years renovating houses for wealthy women, and he owes his success to a few simple rules: don't take on too many jobs at once-and don't sleep with clients. Over the course of one complicated summer, Henry breaks those rules when he works on the houses of two very different women who used to ...

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Overview

Selected as a "sizzling beach read" by the New York Daily News, Richard Murphy's debut novel explains what it really means to be a full-service contractor.

Henry Sullivan has spent seventeen years renovating houses for wealthy women, and he owes his success to a few simple rules: don't take on too many jobs at once-and don't sleep with clients. Over the course of one complicated summer, Henry breaks those rules when he works on the houses of two very different women who used to be friends. Henry falls for both women, and finds himself erecting an emotional house of cards as he attempts to complete their jobs while piecing together the mysterious events that demolished the women's friendship.

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  • Confessions of a Contractor
    Confessions of a Contractor  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In screenwriter Murphy's breezy debut, Henry Sullivan, a single, in-demand L.A. contractor, can pick and choose his high-end home renovation jobs. Henry's self-imposed rules-don't sleep with clients and don't take on too many projects at once-go out a half-finished window when he falls for two clients at once: Sally Stein, a single and successful purse designer, and Rebecca Paulson, an unhappily married mother of twins who is Sally's former best friend. Why the two women he loves are no longer speaking becomes so intriguing to Henry that he begins to dig for answers while simultaneously finishing (or, rather, attempting to finish) both their houses. How Henry finally solves the mystery is neatly wrapped up at the end of this amusing tour through the perils of poking around in others' intimate spaces. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Hollywood screenwriter Murphy taps into his own lengthy history in the home-repair business to craft a debut novel about the uneven relationships between love and shelter. Murphy's fictional doppelganger Henry Sullivan, a blue-collar contractor, is having a hell of a summer. After 15 years working a hammer, this home-repair whiz has learned a few tricks, including maintaining a firm grip on his common sense while clients are losing their minds. "Nothing epitomizes the American dream like a house," he says. "It is the reason renovation has become the most expensive drug on the market, and the reason some people can't stop doing it once they start." Henry breaks his own rules by sleeping with Sally Stein, a charismatic purse designer who finds him to be a perfect accessory. At the same time, he can't stop thinking about new client Rebecca, the wife of repellent real-estate guru Derrick Paulson, who buddies up to Henry to help him salvage his doomed marriage. As if the self-possessed Sullivan doesn't have enough trouble with his love triangle, he's also coping with retaliatory strikes by a vengeful oncologist who believes Henry slept with his wife; good-humored teasing by charming Mexican crew members Hector and Miguel; and his own unresolved feelings about a long-ruined relationship with a sexy Web designer named Gia. Murphy has a good feeling for dialogue, which gives the book's uncomfortable relationships a strong sense of realism, despite the eccentric and sometimes outright crazy behavior of Henry's love interests, and he ably captures the absurd humor that often springs from extreme wealth. But where the novel's real charms lie is in Sullivan's insightful observations of the thornyrelationship between humans and their domiciles. Zen and the art of home repair: Home-improvement addicts, architectural hobbyists and amateur couples counselors should get plenty of mileage here. Agent: Lydia Wills/Paradigm
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425227763
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/7/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Murphy has written for New Line Cinema, Sony/Revolution, and Universal Pictures. Before screenwriting, he renovated apartments and houses in Los Angeles and elsewhere. Murphy lives in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, with his wife, and he is currently in the market to buy a home. Visit his website at www.confessionsofacontractor.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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(3)

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(7)

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2008

    John Cheever Would Love This Book

    John Cheever says that the hallmark of good fiction is when the action on the surface of the narrative is underlined by deeper meaning below the surface. Confessions of a Contractor has that in spades. On the surface, it is a romp through the lives of LA's too-wealthy-to-give-a-crap-about-money set, and as such it holds up hilariously. But Confessions is much more psychologically astute than just that. The novel is really about the unfulfilled needs and desires we all have, but that wealthy people try to fill up with the right tile for the bathroom and a new addition to the guest house. Murphy very cleverly shows that, once the basic human needs of food, shelter and clothing are met, if the more basic human need for love goes unfulfilled, no amount of expensive food, shelter or clothing is going to fill that aching void. A very exciting first novel. I can't wait for more.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2008

    Fix My House!

    The history of construction all points to one question, according to the narrator of this ingenious novel, '...can that home bring true happiness, and if so, how long will it last before it needs to be renovated again in a different color scheme?' Renovation, in other words, fills an empty space and the renovator, by inference in the rest of this humorous, potent tale, just might be contracting to be the filler of a gaping hole or flaw in the 'home' under the transformational process. So begins Henry Sullivan's tale of his relationships with many filthy rich Los Angeles women who all know each other's dirty secrets but who have been providing Henry and his crew work and intrigue by word of mouth for a very long time. Meet Sally Stein with whom Henry has some great sex but who is a bit jealous of what he's doing with the other woman he's working for. Then there's Rebecca Paulson whose husband hopes that this home renovation process might make his wife happy, that is until Henry begins Derrick Paulson is trying to frame him in order to divorce Rebecca. Not that Derrick is exactly an angel since he's bedding half of Los Angeles' females and is just a rather shady guy, the pot calling the kettle black perhaps? Learning that there's an inexplicable relationship between Rebecca and Sally in the past intrigues Henry. For some reason it reminds him of his romance with Gina, which he describes in a descending scale, from their intimate infatuation to the malicious act she performs to get back at him for what died quite quickly. He's rather stymied by the latter as he supposed Derrick Paulson was behind this particularly threatening act. Henry knows beyond a doubt that he should be running in the opposite direction from any and all of these possessive women, but the fact that he stays finally allows him to know his presence has been a most redeeming act in a surprising but oh so satisfying conclusion. Confessions of a Contractor is a fun romp through the lives of the rich and famous, a sort of bachelor reality show pushing the protagonist into an antagonistic state and then traveling full circle to something richer and finer in the end! Very clever and an unusual, rewarding read! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on September 3, 2008

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    An inside look into the lives ... and homes ... in LA

    Confessions of a Contractor: a novel, by Richard Murphy, is a solid book in a shiny red jacket that is a pleasure to hold, to read, and to get lost in its pages. The protagonist, a simple man who lives in an apartment and drives his father¿s beat-up pickup truck, shows appropriate yet clear insight into the lives of the families that he works for/with. As he reconstructs their houses, he deconstructs their lives and tweaks their circumstances here and there, as he sees fit, to improve their marriages, their relationships, their lots in life. Until he meets Sally Stein. Sally is the challenge, the opportunity, the reason that he begins to look outside his ordered life and wonder what pieces he has been missing. His work for and with her changes him, and he is caught off guard a little by that. The developments that ensue are thrilling if mundane, and totally believable. Confessions of a Contractor is a book that kept my attention long past my expectations. It drew me in with its frank confessions about renovating a house and renovating a family, and it kept my attention with a well-paced story and engaging characters. Whether the subject is the women overseeing the renovations, their busy or missing husbands, or the contractors themselves, the author peppers the story with unexpected revelations that work on both a personal and a professional level. Whether you¿re considering renovating, wondering how to prepare to meet the contractor, or just intrigued with the world of the uber-rich in LA (and the contractors who work in their homes), this is a book that will keep you reading well past lights-out.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    A fun, fantastic read!

    This book was a great read! It was nice to see how the characters developed, and Richard Murphy did a great job of creating so much clarity in the end when the story came together. The book was a modern take on the complicated lives of the wealthy and the people who they encounter and become part of their lives. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2008

    Better than the cover looks....

    Confessions of a Contractor is the debut novel from Richard Murphy just released last month from Penguin. I must admit that my initial impression from the cover shot was that 'Contractor' would be a sexual romp through the desperate housewives of Renovation Lane. I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. Yes there is sex, but that's not the main thrust of the book. Henry is a contractor to the wealthy of Los Angeles. For the most part, he dodges landmines as some of his wealthy women clients do have more than renovations in mind. Henry acts as a sounding board, a shoulder to cry on and reads his clients well. In fact he states that: 'The first thing a woman needs to know about renovating a house or apartment is simple: do not, under any circumstance, sleep with your contractor, no matter what your husband or boyfriend is doing to you or not doing to you' But one summer he takes on two houses at the same time and falls in love with both women owners. The ensuing story is about love and friendship told with a healthy dose of humour. The supporting characters are well drawn and believable. His friend Bill steals the show when they are together. Murphy himself worked in the renovation field before working as a screenwriter. 'Contractor' is told in the first person and is filled with lots of advice and humorous situations that have to be the product of experience. It is a fun,enjoyable read that went deeper than the cover predicted.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2008

    A fun read just right for a weekend getaway

    Like a cold beer on a hot summer day, it's pure enjoyment and finished too quickly. Richard Murphy's vivid descriptions of the home renovation scene made me feel like I should be taking notes since I am starting a home building project myself just now. His personal insights and straightfoward style will make you smile.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Different Genre for me

    First, I must admit that Richard is my cousin's husband. Because I read so much, my parents asked me to read his book. Since I prefer suspense, fantasy, sci-fi and similar genres, I really didn't want to deviate. However, what a pleasant surprise. Richard is a wonderfully creative writer. I truly enjoyed reading this book and escaping into someone else's reality. At first blush, excessive sex comes to mind, however, it is nothing like that. There is sex, but the storyline is not based on it; this is a book about relationships and how they affect life. An easy, pleasant read that I would recommend to everyone. Richard, can't wait to read your next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2009

    Excellent Read

    Cleverly written with great characters that you actually care about. Hurrah for his first novel, I can't wait for more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    Remodel this book, please!

    Boring, wordy, in desperate need of a remodel!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    I kept thinking it had to get better....

    It was boring. For a man to have written it without going into any detail of his encounters with the women was very disappointing. He has no problem wth the f bomb though. I think a high school student could write better. I can't believe I wasted my time and money on this stinker!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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