Constance

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"Constance is about a writer hypnotized by the power of art and language, and about the woman who tells her story. The narrator is an editor, working at a prestigious New York house, whose youthful ideals and belief in literature have been eroded by the practicalities of the publishing world." "Then she meets Constance, a writer whose poetry and haunted personality overwhelm and intrigue her. But Constance remains a mystery no matter how the editor attempts to draw her out - until a newspaper photograph exposes what the poet has been so ...
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New York 2002 Hardcover stated 1st Brand new. Dust Jacket Included Book ISBN: 0-375-50796-5. William Styron blurb Andy Carpenter dj. brand new, fine dj, siena & beige bds. ... Tight. Giftable! 210 pgs. Read more Show Less

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Overview

"Constance is about a writer hypnotized by the power of art and language, and about the woman who tells her story. The narrator is an editor, working at a prestigious New York house, whose youthful ideals and belief in literature have been eroded by the practicalities of the publishing world." "Then she meets Constance, a writer whose poetry and haunted personality overwhelm and intrigue her. But Constance remains a mystery no matter how the editor attempts to draw her out - until a newspaper photograph exposes what the poet has been so determined to conceal." Finally, Constance reveals her story to the woman who has waited so long to hear it: a story of passion, secrets, and blinkered devotion; a story of mentors and muses and the love of a powerful man; a story that keeps Constance's editor asking questions and searching for answers until the end.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Cantrell occupies herself with the classic trio of poetry, beauty and tragedy in this promising debut novel set in New York City. Morgan Clifford is a recently widowed editor at the venerable publishing house of Peabody & Simms. Years of watching glittering literary careers being created for mediocre writers by "the metallic maw of the publicity machine" have left her disillusioned and frustrated, but when the work of a mysterious and exceptional young poet, Constance Chamberlain, appears on her desk, it reignites her love for literature and life. Cantrell draws an entrancing character in Constance, who is at once fiercely talented, strikingly beautiful and appealingly old-fashioned. When she takes Morgan into her confidence to divulge a consuming love affair with a prominent (and married) businessman, her delicate reserve yields to reveal astute insight and unwavering passion. Constance's poems are interspersed throughout the narrative, as if to test Morgan's suggestion that Constance circumvent the publishing industry's reluctance to publish unknown poets by weaving her poetry into a novel. This approach is occasionally marred by the poetry itself; it is hard to remain convinced of Constance's extraordinary attributes when her work is so pedestrian. With Constance's untimely death, Morgan is forced to reexamine some of the myths that she built around the poet. It appears that Constance was both more tormented and less isolated than she seemed, which puts a refreshing spin on what threatened to be a predictable conclusion. Even the posthumous publication of her poems by Peabody & Simms is less triumphant than expected, as Morgan realizes that being elevated to the status of Emily Dickinson's editor "had not been the point at all." Cantrell writes with careful precision, and despite the flimsy poetry, Constance's story is subtle and touching. (July 16) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Morgan Clifford is a widowed New York editor caught up in the publishing world's dichotomy of cultured writers and cutthroat business mergers. While Morgan has limped along after her husband's death, she has dreamed of discovering a truly great talent. When the mysterious Constance Chamberlain enters her life on the recommendation of her senior editor, she sees a beautiful, reserved woman with a prodigious talent for poetry who is completely unschooled in the world of publishing. Morgan takes her on as a client, reading her work, trying to get her recognized in poetry publications, and offering feedback. Throughout it all Constance is grateful, intellectual, and extremely reserved about her private life. A chance observation through a restaurant window reveals Constance in the company of a powerful and married businessman. Gossip ensues and as Constance opens up to Morgan, revealing the history of her secret romance, a tragedy occurs causing Morgan to wonder about the nature of fame and the recognition of talent in modern society. Cantrell's novel is beautifully written but is the type of book that requires a patient reader interested in both human psychology and poetry. The subject matter and sleeper quality makes it of interest to adults and only the most sophisticated YA readers. KLIATT Codes: A-Recommended for advanced students and adults. 2002, Random House, 220p., Ages 17 to adult.
— Courtney Lewis
Kirkus Reviews
Manhattan book editor Morgan Clifford's fascinated empathy with the figure of the eponymous Constance Chamberlain, a young poet who combines traces of Sylvia Plath and (her idol) Emily Dickinson with a frustratingly unfulfilled personal life, (just barely) dramatizes her surmise that "poetry . . . finds its life source in suppressed emotions." Long conversations and thoughtful speculations dominate Constance, which also includes numerous examples of Constance's work (at least one meditative poem, "The Forest Disagrees," is a beauty). Poet Cantrell's frist novel is cleanly and precisely written, but underimagined, underplotted, and crammed with cliches about the writing process, the writer's sensibility, and the books and authors beloved by its two principal characters. It hints at strong emotions, but declines to render them; the result is unfortunately passive and passionless.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375507960
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/9/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Cantrell is a graduate of Duke University. She lives in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt

Constance tells the compelling story of a writer hypnotized by the power of art and language, and about the woman who learns her secrets. The narrator, Morgan Clifford, is an editor at a prestigious New York publishing house whose youthful ideals and belief in literature have been eroded by the practicalities of the business world. Then she meets Constance, a writer whose poetry and haunted personality overwhelm and intrigue her. But Constance remains a mystery no matter how Morgan attempts to draw her out—until a newspaper photograph exposes what the poet has been so determined to conceal.
Finally, Constance reveals her story to the woman who has waited so long to hear it: a story of passion, secrets, and blinkered devotion; a story of mentors and muses and the love of a powerful man; a story that keeps Morgan asking questions and searching for answers until the end. In Constance, Catherine Can-trell portrays a life that emerges beautifully, simply, and uncompromisingly—and that is no mean accomplishment.

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