The Folded World

The Folded World

by Amity Gaige
     
 

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When Charlie Shade and Alice Bussard find each other, neither is prepared for the powerful, aching feeling of love that unites them. After falling for the cheerful and empathetic young man, Alice asks God: “Please, leave us alone. Leave us just like this.” But as their relationship evolves, and their family grows with the addition of twin girls, so too

Overview

When Charlie Shade and Alice Bussard find each other, neither is prepared for the powerful, aching feeling of love that unites them. After falling for the cheerful and empathetic young man, Alice asks God: “Please, leave us alone. Leave us just like this.” But as their relationship evolves, and their family grows with the addition of twin girls, so too does Charlie’s career as a social worker. Drawn to people in crisis, Charlie struggles to remain neutral when dealing with the troubled souls he meets. But as boundaries begin to blur and temptations arise at work and at home, Charlie and Alice head toward an emotional collision that will challenge their marriage in ways they never thought possible.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Exquisitely written . . . The bitterness and disillusion of marriage have been thoroughly plumbed in contemporary fiction; Gaige is one of the rare novelists who is more interested in its potential for happiness and grace.”
Entertainment Weekly

“Exhilarating . . . captivating . . . a beautiful story wonderfully told . . . highly recommended.”
–Library Journal

“In this tightly-written and emotionally satisfying novel, a young couple’s marriage is thrown into jeopardy by the husband’s workaholic tendencies… [Gaige] is extraordinarily adept at revealing her characters’ personalities in just a few words… Stirring.” —New York Times Book Review

The Folded World will appeal to readers who like to dive into the muck of internal and interpersonal conflicts, and break the surface with breath born of insight and empathy. Amity Gaige's second novel lives up to the reputation she earned with her first one, as an original, compelling voice.” —Chicago Tribune (Favorite Books of 2007)

The Folded World is more than a novel: it's a revelation, about what it means to love romantically in this problematic world. Charlie and Alice Shade's marriage… inspires us to consider our own attachments in a new, radiant light.” —Ken Kalfus, author of A Disorder Peculiar to the Country

"Amity Gaige is terrific.  Once again she reveals her virtuoso ability to translate the complicated ambiguity of our most haunting feelings, and our closest relationships, into dazzling prose.  For the reader who has been fortified by love's endurance, baffled by its fragility, and awestruck by the hurricane force with which it hits, The Folded World strikes deep and true." —Christopher Sorrentino, author of Trance

“Gaige was honored as one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 [exceptional authors] under 35” for her debut, O My Darling (2005). Her second time around again showcases a gift for capturing the simultaneous proximity and distance in a relationship… Gaige’s off-beat orientation, wit and piercing insights stand up to her first novel, this time in a more sober and less tidy narrative that offers greater breadth in exchange for sweetness.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“One of Gaige’s triumphs is her ability to sustain narrative momentum; as the story progresses and the characters deepen… the book becomes truly gripping. The scenes are so finely crafted, the narrative movement so fluid, it becomes impossible to resist being swept into the world of Alice and Charlie… The Folded World entices one to read with both hunger and patience.” —The Literary Review (Editor’s Choice)

“In reading Charlie and Alice's story, I was struck by three things: Gaige's crystalline prose, the three-dimensionality of all of her characters, even the minor ones, and her ability to convey the darkness in the minds of Charlie's clients, who are suffering from schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. Gaige… offers us something very special indeed.” —Nancy Pearl, National Public Radio

“Gaige (one of the National Book Foundation's "5 under 35") writes elegantly, and she makes the survival of this young marriage a question of grace. Grade: A-.” Christian Science Monitor

The Folded World is an artfully-rendered portrait of Charlie and his wife, a meditation on love, relationships and responsibility, and an exploration of what exactly constitutes the dividing line between sanity and madness… The often-awkward (and sometimes wrenching) dance of the care provider who must know people intimately, yet simultaneously keep them at arm’s length… is portrayed here to stunning effect.” The Providence Journal

Amity Gaige is the Winner of the ForeWord Book of the Year Award for Fiction

Publishers Weekly

Gaige follows up on the 2006 National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" selection O My Darlingwith a measured account of a mildly troubled marriage and the hurdles faced by well-meaning social caseworkers. Gorgeous and dark-haired Alice Bussard, the 22-year-old daughter of a librarian, leaves "shabby" hometown Gloucester, Mass., to find bigger and better in a nearby (and unnamed) city. What she finds, however, is a job as a dentist's receptionist and the attention of 25-year-old, big-eared Midwestern transplant Charlie Shade, who is finishing his master's in social work. Before long, they're married and Charlie's found an underpaid and overworked job. They have twins, and Charlie's dedication to his work—and two patients, Hal Kramer and Opal Ludlow, specifically—sparks domestic tension (Alice is predictably tempted by another man), professional trouble and physical danger. Alice's mother comes to help with the kids, but ends up sharing with Alice the truth Alice would rather not hear about the father she never knew. Gaige's sophomore effort is polished and competent, with measured doses of dry humor leavening overwrought prose . Details about the mechanisms of the social work system are convincing, as is Gaige's portrayal of a young marriage on the rocks, but the narrative may be too tidy for some. (May)

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Library Journal

We've all heard the truism that the devil is in the details. For novelist Gaige, whose O My Darlingwas a winner of the National Book Foundation's first 5 Under 35 award, these details are hidden in the folds of everyday life. Protagonist Charlie Shade, a young social worker, is attempting to balance his job as part of a mobile mental-health team with his responsibilities to his family. It's not easy. Eager to prove his competence as a clinician, he virtually ignores his stay-at-home wife and twin daughters. When the inevitable crisis hits, the novel brings readers into the center of the maelstrom. From here, it explores dozens of themes: boundary setting, fidelity, loyalty, compromise, self-preservation, the changing nature of love, and personal growth, among others. Gorgeous prose and unusual characters combine to make this an intriguing and captivating look at the ways traditional gender roles skew adult relationships. Indeed, it is exhilarating to see Alice, the horrifyingly passive wife, transform herself into a competent woman. This alchemy, in concert with a beautiful story wonderfully told, makes this highly recommended for all fiction collections.
—Eleanor J. Bader

Kirkus Reviews
An idyllic marriage is tested in this idiosyncratic examination of how the experience of love, its absence and its presence, can shape lives. Gaige was honored as one of the National Book Foundation's "5 [exceptional authors] under 35" for her debut, O My Darling (2005). Her second time around again showcases a gift for capturing the simultaneous proximity and distance in a relationship. But this darker story connects the romance of coupledom to the territory of madness. The lovers, Alice and Charlie, are both the products of their upbringings: she, the bookish daughter of a disappointed single mother; he, the likable, talented golden child of "wonderful, clear presences." Charlie's ambition-to be "good"-leads him to a career in social work, but his innocent impulses cause problems in his charmed life, which has been further graced by the birth of twin girls. Her husband's staying at work late leaves Alice lonely and mistrustful, while overstepping professional boundaries imperils both Charlie's clients and his career. Mania stalks the characters in many forms, some abstract, others tangible. The sense of threat that hangs over the proceedings is fed by Charlie's grandmother's premonition of violence, yet in a gathering whirlwind of a conclusion, the author dodges expectations, while reaching grandly for a multiple vision of love and restoration. Gaige's off-beat orientation, wit and piercing insights stand up to her first novel, this time in a more sober and less tidy narrative that offers greater breadth in exchange for sweetness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780812978544
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/10/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.19(w) x 8.03(h) x 0.75(d)

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