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Cranberry Queen

Cranberry Queen

4.1 15
by Kathleen DeMarco

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Diana Moore, a thirty-something professional in New York City, is brooding over rumors about her ex-lovers beautiful new girlfriend, when the unimaginable happens: a terrible car accident in which her entire family is killed. Seeking refuge from her well-meaning friends, Diana heads out of the city and ends up in the Pine Barrens, an oasis of simple living in New


Diana Moore, a thirty-something professional in New York City, is brooding over rumors about her ex-lovers beautiful new girlfriend, when the unimaginable happens: a terrible car accident in which her entire family is killed. Seeking refuge from her well-meaning friends, Diana heads out of the city and ends up in the Pine Barrens, an oasis of simple living in New Jersey where cranberry bogs abound. There, in a place where no one knows her history, Diana is free to take a hard look at her life and to begin to explore avenues of change and renewal.

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
An ideal beach read.
Never sinking into malodrama or shying away from raw emotions, DeMarco in her first novel gracefully portrays Diana's dueling desires to succumb to her loss and to escape from it.
Worth a taste.
Trenton Times
Cranberry Queen is a fast, engrossing read...the voice of the protagonist Diana Moore is loud, clear and authentic from the very beginning.
You'll devour DeMarco's poignant, witty debut.
DeMarco never lets tragedy get the best of her heoine...in this charming tale...While the plot is intriguing, what sets Cranberry Queen apart from many first novels is the subtle sophistication of DeMarco's prose.
Library Journal
Diana Moore's biggest problem is "The Monster," the ex-boyfriend who left her for another woman. Then the unthinkable happens: Diana's entire family, her parents and brother, are killed by a drunk driver. Diana can barely cope and drives off from her New York City home, headed for nowhere. A fluke leads her to the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey, a rural enclave where forests and cranberry bogs are as common as skyscrapers in New York. Quirky new friends who don't know of her past enable Diana first to deny her pain and then to come to terms with it. The descriptions of cranberry farming and the landscapes of this little-known part of the country are fascinating. The story, however, is not as interesting as the setting. DeMarco is a film producer, so her debut novel is, of course, already headed for the silver screen. Its visual storytelling may work better in that format. Recommended for public libraries. Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Self-absorbed, rather silly first novel about an orphaned yuppie. Diana Moore, 33, is rising quickly through the ranks at a prestigious New York dot-com, although her controlling boss, Darius, is a pain in her highly toned glutes. The worst thing that's ever happened to her thus far: an invitation to a wedding, where she'll have to see her ex-boyfriend and his new love all huggy and happy. But she ends up not going when her beloved parents and brother Ben are killed in a car crash on the New Jersey turnpike. Devastated and emotionally adrift, Diana quits her meaningless job because Darius just doesn't understand how she is totally, like, alone in the world. Refusing the services of a grief counselor and other trendy therapies, she heads out of the city in her trusty old Volvo, taking backroads, haunted by vivid memories of her parents, and none too aware of where she's going. Somewhere in New Jersey? Maybe like the Pine Barrens? There's pine trees and sand and nature and stuff, according to our somewhat incoherent heroine, and then—ohmigod! She accidentally runs into Rosie, a nutty old lady riding a motorcycle in slippers! These other people—Rosie's relatives—show up out of nowhere and are actually mad at her, even though Diana is, like, incredibly sorry and really upset. So upset that she suddenly decides to pass herself off as a friendly if lost soul from South Carolina, and the eccentric clan of cranberry farmers somehow believe her for a while. Hey, beautiful, tough Louisa and sexy Jack and Fritz and Billy aren't anything like the spoiled, affluent city-dwellers she knows—no, they are Real People leading Real Lives in the boggy rural paradise they call home,boldly drinking beer from the bottle and telling it like it is. Anodyne indeed for Diana's heartsickness, enabling her to come to terms with the tragedy that shattered her life. Forgettable.

Product Details

Miramax Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
13 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


He—the Monster—is now dating someone whose name begins with "L." I think her name is Lola or maybe, possibly Lolita. (Tiptoeing off the tongue. How lovely. Lovely Lola Lolita.) The Monster, everyone says, is much better now. He doesn't drink (I'm not around) and he doesn't smoke (I'm not around) and he doesn't stay out all night and ring "L's" doorbell at four thirty in the morning (drunk and smoky). He's older, wiser, and unwilling to go backward into that great abyss that reads me.

    But I'm better now too. (It's taken three years, three months, and five days to recover from "I didn't sleep here last night," which really meant "I didn't sleep at my apartment last night because I picked someone up from a Knicks game with my friend Freddy since, frankly, I didn't want to be with you anymore and couldn't figure out a way to tell you.") But I am a much improved, much more emotionally mature, much more serene person now. (This according to Mom, Dad, therapist Barbara, friends Wiley and Betsy, brother-who's-bored-with-this Ben, boss Darius, and colleagues Peter and Serena.)

    I work for (drumroll) that Internet company. I can't tell you much more than this because it would go against Darius's strict confidentiality policies. I could be killed or, worse, sent to obedience school for intransigent dot-com employees who don't understand how everyone in the world is waiting to destroy us.

    (Okay. I just checked the manual. I am allowed to say I work in marketing andthat I work with very bright and very able young men and women. Our job is to convince the rest of the world that we are, and our company is, the brightest and ablest. Because we are one of the few companies to actually earn a profit, people believe us, making my division seem very effective.)

    It is a very good company. I have the kind of stock options people dream about, and my 401(k) is bursting with money (or so they tell me). My parents are healthy, my brother is getting married, and my best friend, Wiley, is getting engaged. The astrological planets are all in alignment, courtesy of my Aunt Margaret, who, besides being an astrologer, is a psychic, a chef, and one of those people who can predict any future occurrence in your life, even, say, the day you'll cross a crooked bridge or the night you'll meet the man of your dreams, and you will believe her wholeheartedly, because that's how much you trust her.

    According to Aunt Margaret, I'm set to have the best three years of my life.

    This is especially fortuitous, because I have the biggest day of my life tomorrow. Tomorrow, I go to a wedding where the Monster will be. With L. And I have summoned up all of my astrological and emotional and physical strength to attend this wedding of my incourteous friends, Maria and Michael, who have invited the Monster, feeling it better to propel me headfirst into Engaging in Life, Part Two, by Getting Rid of the Past. (People do this because they think it is helpful. It's not about you, they say. And it never was, they continue. Frankly, they say, this behavior of yours is not becoming. It is in utter contrast to you, the Cybermarketer of the Tri-State Region. You are a beautiful and smart and successful woman, and you must must must get over this addiction. "It's like heroin!" shrieks Maria. "Lick your wounds and move on!" admonishes Michael.)

    Tomorrow, I will embody what it means to be aging gracefully. I will be the Perfect Single Guest. I will be the Katharine Hepburn (at thirty-three, not eighty) of the wedding. I am going alone. And I am not allowing myself one second of self-deprecation. Not one second. Affirmations and visuals. I am Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice. I am Bette Davis in All About Eve. I am anyone, anyone at all, but me, Diana Moore, brown of hair, nine of shoe, and wide of thigh.


I am home. Home home, in Princeton, New Jersey, not New York, New York.

    There's been an accident. A truck, a big huge Mack truck the size of a Trump building (but gray, not gold), hiding cases and cases of brown-bottled beer, has made a wrong move on a small road in the southern part of New Jersey, Route 206. Route 206 has only two lanes, which makes no sense in this overpopulated state, but presumably someone in power believes that restricting the road to only two lanes forestalls the advent of a further population explosion.

    Presumably these same people have not realized that a two-lane system clogs cars, frustrates drivers, and imperils a family of three (Mom, Dad, Ben) driving to a dinner deep in Southern New Jersey. These same people have not seen any logic to expanding a roadway so that a bleary, sweaty, fleshy man, vodka steaming from his pores, angry at the Range Rover sputtering in front of him, angry that the man with the ponytail driving the Range Rover has a Range Rover, angry at himself for not picking up Willy, his eleven-year-old son, from his mother's today because he went to the bar Fredo's instead, angry angry angry—so fuck it, fuck it all, he thought, I'm going to fucking pass this fucking asswipe Range Rover asshole, I don't care who's coming down the other side, I don't care if the President and his fucking Secret Service guys are barreling down this shitty road, fuck it all, I have the bigger car, I don't need a Range Rover, I have this, my TRUCK, my beautiful big motherfucking TRUCK, and goddamn it, what was up with the blonde at the bar?

    My mother. My father. My brother. The truck driver is fine, scarred on his forehead, repentant (of course), his anger supplanted by dread and nerves. He wishes (while in his sister's Plymouth Horizon, as they drive from the police station later that night) that he were the dead one, because he's sure that the survivors of the family whom he hit are going to sue him for millions, sue the beer distributor for millions, and he might as well shoot himself in the head; fuck it, he wishes he were the one who got hit by someone drunk. He turns to the backseat and sees an empty beer bottle. He sees himself cracking it against his head, the bottle breaking in his hand, brown glass mixing with flesh and dark blood. Later, after he's in his bed, he remembers this straggling beer bottle and wonders why he didn't do just that.

    And now I'm at home. Aunt Margaret and a cousin we call Uncle John are there, as are family friends and priests and doctors and people I don't know, bustling around in the kitchen. They leave me alone, which is good, I think, because I don't know what I'm supposed to do. But maybe it is bad. Maybe it is all going to fall apart. I think about yesterday, when I said that today, which was then tomorrow, would be the biggest day of my life. The wedding of Michael and Maria must be occurring right this second. Or maybe seconds ago. They stood and got married. Monster and L were there. Other friends. Parents. Dancing, drinking, and filet and cake and bright flowers against white tablecloths. Mom had called me today before I left, and had said, "You're you. You're a wonderful person, a good person. Come off it, Diana. You're still pretty. You're so pretty. Have patience, Diana. I know it's hard." My eyes had grown wet, and I had looked up toward a light while I replied (embarrassed at my need for self-validation), "I'll be okay." "Love you, Diana." "Love you, Mom." Click.

    That was going to be the biggest day of my life.

    "Diana, sweetheart, the doctor's here. He thinks you should maybe take something, a pill or something; it'll help you sleep."

    I stand, smile, no tears yet for me, the heretofore ceaseless crying machine. I take the pills from Doctor Metrovich, our family's doctor since I was a child.

    "This'll help, eh, child, this'll help. Here's a couple." He hands over the tablets. I swallow them, no water. He looks at me, a ruddy face, deep wrinkles etched in red skin, black hair slicked back, thick aviator glasses with a brown tint, and kind, very kind dark eyes, all composed in an expression of selfless sympathy.

    "You—you'll ..." He stops, words failing him, and instead grabs me by the arm with very strong fingers and pulls me close. A hug that I feel, I feel completely. I concentrate on the strength of his fingers, the deep pull of the flesh from his wrist to his elbow, his shirt sleeve, his smell, everything. This is living, I think. This is the touch of the living. Everything I know is now changed. The people are here, they are moving, the air is the same, it is exactly the same, but everything has changed; everything from this moment on has changed irrevocably, and I know that my "recovery"—if any, and right now that is very doubtful—my recovery will take mountains of days and months and years; it will take so long that already I feel hopelessness deadening my senses, as if a lumbering giant moving under the earth has shot his massive arm through the ground and has hurled me up up up in the air, me as weightless and flimsy as a piece of silver tinsel, and I am lost forever, and I don't even care.

Excerpted from CRANBERRY QUEEN by Kathleen DeMarco. Copyright © 2001 by Kathleen DeMarco. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

What People are Saying About This

Shannon Olson
A wise and compelling novel about loss, loneliness, and gathering strength. Kathleen DeMarco has created a narrator whom readers will love, cheer for, and relate to--smart, funny, self-deprecating, and real. I couldn't put this book down. Each short chapter is like a door into a new room, and you can't wait to see the whole house, to find out what will happen next.
— (Shannon Olson, author of Welcome to My Planet)

Meet the Author

Kathleen DeMarco is a screenplay writer and producing partner to John Leguizamo at Lower East Side Films. She attended the University of Pennsylvania (College of Arts & Sciences and the Wharton School of Business). She has written for HBO 's Original Films, and on TV movies for NBC, ABC, and CBS. Her screenplays include: My Pseudo Life (with John Leguizamo), and Ivy League Stripper. She lives in New York City.

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Cranberry Queen 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before purchasing this book, I read the first few pages and was intrigued. However, after reading deeper, I was very disappointed. The characters are shallow, immature, and cliche. All had deep flaws and none were likable. The author manipulated a tragic accident into a boring, self-pitying monologue. I skimmed whole chapters before finally giving up any pretext of interest and just read the last few pages. I cannot recommend this book.
Nacheli More than 1 year ago
It was definitely a chick lit book. I have to say that the characters lack definition. I have mixed feelings about the book. It was not great but it wasn't awful either. The part I dislike is that in 1 day the characters were acting like if they known each other from lifetimes ago. It just seem unrealistic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
EAD77 More than 1 year ago
I bought this book on impulse, because it's set in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Intelligent chick lit, and true to the setting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
these characters are thirtysomething?? They behave more like HS kids!! And there is nothing sooo amazing about the pine barrens...i spent summers there as a kid its a great place to get away from.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Cranberry Queen is a must-read book because of the characters, setting, and theme. It follows the life of Diana Moore after a life-changing tragedy. She flees from New York and ends up in Pine Barrens, New Jersey, just in time for the cranberry festival. Here she meets a new group of friends: Louisa, an explosive and fiery woman with her own secrets, Rosie, the gentle and insightful grandmother, and Jack, Louisa's charming old boyfriend. The characters are well developed, with humanistic traits and flaws that I could relate to. The setting is also important in this novel. Pine Barrens is a place for Diana to reflect on the tragedy, and also to hide her identity. Here she is allowed to be who she wants to be, even if it is only for a short period of time. The cranberry harvest and small-town charm offer a new look on life, and with the help of her new friends, she is able to start moving on and getting her life back together once again. There are numerous themes in Cranberry Queen. Friendship, love, tragedy, and most importantly, life, are key aspects in this novel. I would recommend Cranberry Queen to anyone who is looking for an inspiring novel about life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a fantastic and quick read. the characters draw you in, while diana (lead character) can keep you laughing and crying. this is a great book that reafirms that we are all human and the ending is gratifying for anyone to read!! while i typically bounce from classic literature (east of eden, catcher in the rye) to bios (angela's ashes, a monk swimming) sometimes 'chick-lit' is a good deviation to just read and not think so much; however, this book is truly deep and profound in a real-life sense, not just a step into blowing time off with a fast read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with most of the reviewers. A touching book about the pain of death. Kira mentioned about the main character not forgetting about her family's death, which was only 4 months after diana runs into louisa and co. SHe is still grieving, which is understandable. all the characters had real personalities and the text was refreshing. As for the monster, if she mentioned him every page, it would be annoying, but i only remember references 4 or 5 times. good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was enjoyable and certainly enticing. The more that is read, the deeper the concern for Diana's dramatic, outlandish and yet very understandable behavior. I found that towards the end, the pace moves rather quickly and perhaps avoids the painful resolves that it might have had, but also leaves the reader feeling slightly abandoned. It is worthwhile because Diana is such a likeable character that can make the reader angry and sympathetic in the same moment.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Cranberry Queen by Kathleen DeMarco is a novel about this one character name Diana. She lived with her parents and her brother. Her family dies in a car crash and she doesn¿t seem to forget about what happen. She feels sad and lonely, not only because of the accident, but also her boyfriend has recently broke up with her. Throughout the whole book the author pretty much talks about the same thing. About how she feels lonely, and how much she despise her ex boyfriend whom she calls ¿the monster.¿ Diana has moved on with her life, but at the same time she is still thinking about her family¿s death. The book¿s goal is to teach people how to move on when a tragedy enters our lives. Even through the toughest, and loneliest times, it teaches us how to help ourselves, and know that there is always someone that will be there for you in times of need. Especially when you think that people around you doesn¿t care about what happen, that they really do. I think that this book has achieved its goal, even when you don¿t finish the book and can barely understand the story, that you will understand what its really saying. I didn¿t really like the book very much. I was confused, it was hard to understand after the beginning. After the first few section in the book I just got lost. It seemed like the author was talking about the same thing over and over, about how her family died. there was some parts in the book that I couldn¿t understand that¿s mainly the reason why I dislike this book. In my opinion this book is not for teens to read, I recommend this book to adults.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I could't put this book down, I automatically fell in love with this book right from the start. Being from Long Beach Island New Jersey and going to school at Stockton in Jersey which is right by Hammonton and growing up in the pine barrens myself, I couldn't have been more pleased with her book. Its a fabulous,easy, read that I couldn't put down. Go get it if you haven't read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read through this book in two days. I loved it. It was compelling and emotional. I really felt Diana's grief and sadness. The book allows you to feel that life does go on, and it is okay to move on when awful things happen. I am not sure how anyone who had lost someone important in their like could not relate to this book. Also, being from New Jersey and going to Cook College was interesting to me. I found it a very accurate depiction of New Jersey, and the hiddent beauty of my state!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the new novel The Cranberry Queen. It is written with a new fresh style of writing- witty and introspective. Diana Moore as the main character is a typical woman of the twenty first century, someone you can relate to. Kathleen Demarco's vivid depiction of the Pine Barrens makes you want to drive to New Jersey to see it for yourself. An excellent book. I look forward to another novel from this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Crying with sorrow. Crying from laughing. Crying with joy. This is such a profound and funny story of embracing life after loss. So many insights into love and friendship. Such an endearing, human protagonist. Such soaring language. I don't have the words to describe the beauty and emotion of this gorgeous novel. You have to read it. And Kathleen DeMarco has to write more.
Guest More than 1 year ago
CQ is poignant, touching, real. The characters are alive. The world is redeemed. A remarkable first novel. Buy this book! DeMarco is a writer to watch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Cranberry Queen I read was both poignant and funny. When reading the Kirkus review, I could not help but think the reviewer read a different book. No one died on the New Jersey Turnpike, the main character never said she was from South Carolina, and the friends she meets on the farm in the Pine Barrens are from the city. I found the book rich in detail and the author brillant. Her descriptions of the cranberry harvest captured my imagination. Her characterizations accurately reflected many of the challenges of 30ish single women. I couldn't recommend this book more highly. In fact, my entire office of 11 women concur with my assessment of this novel.