Molly Divine Marx is dead. No one is quite sure how-murder, suicide, tragic accident?-and even Molly's own recollection doesn't explain much. Narrating this charming novel from an afterlife limbo known as the Duration, Molly follows the investigation of her death while keeping tabs on the living she left behind. Nearly everyone is a suspect: Barry, Molly's philandering plastic surgeon husband; Kitty, her controlling mother-in-law; Luke, Molly's lover; and the cabal of wifely hopefuls who line up for a shot at Barry before Molly's casket is safely in the ground. Longtime magazine editor Koslow (Little Pink Slips) knows her way around expertly tuned phrasing, and Molly is a delightful gem of a heroine. Equal parts self-deprecating, wry and sassy, Molly is honest about her faults and easily forgiving of the others' as she reviews her life with a hearty dose of honesty and humor. Though the anticipated delicious revelation doesn't quite live up to expectations, the narrative's heavy dose of hilarity and heartbreak will win readers over. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Late, Lamented Molly Marxby Sally Koslow
The circumstances of Molly Marx’s death may be suspicious, but she hasn’t lost her sense of humor. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly discovers that she can still keep tabs on/i>/i>
BONUS: This edition contains a The Late, Lamented Molly Marx discussion guide and an excerpt from Sally Koslow's With Friends Like These.
The circumstances of Molly Marx’s death may be suspicious, but she hasn’t lost her sense of humor. Newly arrived in the hereafter, aka the Duration, Molly discovers that she can still keep tabs on those she left behind: Annabel, her beloved four-year-old daughter; Lucy, her combustible twin sister; Kitty, her piece-of-work mother-in-law; Brie, her beautiful and steadfast best friend; and of course her husband, Barry, a plastic surgeon with more than a professional interest in many of his female patients. As the police question Molly’s circle of intimates about the circumstances of her death, Molly relives the years and days that led up to her sudden end—and takes responsibility for her choices in life.
Exploring the bonds of motherhood, marriage, and friendship, and narrated by a memorable and endearing character, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving, and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story, and all heart.
After the thinly veiled autobiography of Little Pink Slips, Koslow's latest novel treads on sure, fictional ground. The story is told from the perspective of Molly Marx-looking down on her loved ones from the Duration. The 35-year-old mother and decorator watches from the afterlife as a dashing detective investigates her mysterious death. The wide cast of characters includes a cheating husband and his latest girlfriend, a charming three-year-old daughter, a jealous twin sister, a scorned lover, a hovering mother-in-law, and a lesbian best friend. Which one of them is responsible for her demise? As the people in her life move on without her, Molly must reckon with the choices she made-like the ongoing affair. Ultimately, the crime is never solved-although readers find out whodunit-leaving you to wonder what the point was. Part mommy lit, part murder mystery, this novel will attract attention from Koslow's fans. Recommended for public libraries where her first novel was popular. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/09.]
“Heaven only knows how Sally Koslow pulled off this novel with such precision and wit, and a narrative that drives you to the very last sentence. A story of love, friendship and family told from both sides, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a treasure no matter how you look at it.”—Betsy Carter, author of Swim to Me
"Molly Marx speaks from the grave with a voice that is fresh, funny and warm. In examining Molly's late, lamented life, Sally Koslow delivers a story about marriage, motherhood, and friendship that anyone who has ever been a spouse, a parent, or a friend will recognize. And who knew hanging out with the dead could be such a delight!"—Meg Wate Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
"Never has a voice from the grave sounded so delightful. Darkly comic, unflinchingly romantic, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a page-turner from the word go."—Michelle Richmond, author of The Year of Fog
"Koslow knows her way around expertly tuned phrasing, and Molly is a delightful gem of a heroine. Equal parts self-deprecating, wry and sassy, Molly is honest about her faults and equally forgiving of the others’ as she reviews her life with a hearty does of honesty and humor . . . The narrative’s heavy dose of hilarity and heartbreak will win readers over.”—Publishers Weekly
Koslow’s story of “a life examined” in the hereafter makes readers truly care about her protagonist, foibles and all. –Booklist
“By the time we meet Molly Divine Marx in the opening pages of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, she is dead. But that by no means detracts from the many charms of Sally Koslow’s wonderful new novel … Filled with remarkable clarity about how to embrace life while you can.”—BookPage
“Dive into one of the season’s standout cliff-hangers… When Marx observes her intimates–and the investigation into her death–from the hereafter, she’s both tickled and ticked off by what she learns. You will be, too.”–Self
“For a weekend away … [An] unexpectedly spunky book about life after death.”–Redbook
"Will keep you hooked to the end."—Real Simple Real Simple
“[A] comic romp through the afterlife.”–More
“Young Manhattan mom cut down in the prime of life lands at the pearly gates with some unfinished buisiness in a frothy whodunit liberally sprinkled with Our Town-type wisdom . . . Koslow authentically details the privileged world Molly must leave behind.”–Kirkus
"Required reading"– Billy Heller, New York Post and Newsday
"Sally Koslow's pacing, dialogue fill me with envy. I'd love to produce writing that flows this effortlessly."– Amelia Robertson, The Roanoke Times
"Best Summer Reads."– KCAL TV, LA
"Essential for your beach bag this summer."– Associated Content
"Hilarious and thought-provoking"– Jewish Community Voice
"Razor-sharp wit...the characters would be what recommends the novel."– Book Club Classics
"Relax with a new read that offers a little bit of everything."– Woman's World
"Truly superb writer...the questions about what happened to Molly will keep you guessing, perhaps beyond the final chapter."– John A. Broussard, I Love A Mystery
"Funny, poignant…"– Life & Style Weekly
"This breath-of-frsh-air novel is...part mystery and all charm.. With a touch of irony and down-to-earth philosophy."–Jewish Book World
"I found myself holding my breaththe mark of a story that's really grabbing me. Surprisingly moving, an ultimately different read than you might expect."–Lizzie Rizzo at Everyday Goddess
"Molly steals the show. It's hard not to fall in love with (her) even as she lays out her faults, regrets and frustrations.... Koslow's writing style grabbed me from the first page, and took me on an emotional ride."– Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
"I didn't want it to end, because (the characters) were people I wanted to eat dinner with, and I didn't want to say goodbye."– NomadReader
"My book club would enjoy this book on many levels. Not only is it a very entertaining read because the narrator is...funny, but this book goes deeper and causes you to reflect on all sorts of relationshipsmarriage, friendship, sisterhood, parenthood and...romantic love."– Julie P. at Booking Mamma
"A brilliant, entertaining read about the choices we make in life..."– Malena Lott at Athena's Bookshelf
"I absolutelyhands downadored this book...one of those rare books that draws you in and you feel as if you are experiencing it rather than reading it."– Nely at Bookwormygirl.blogspot.com
"I can't gush enough… This is going to be the perfect book for the summer."– Mary at www.maryinhb.blogspot.com
"Mommy lit with a dash of mystery and a generous helping of fantasya mix that works surprisingly well."– curvy*mommy's corner
"The book is a celebration of the imperfect lives we choose to lead."– Style Substance Soul
"Spirited and lively...you will be laughing outloud."– Missy Garner at Missy's Book Nook
"I loved the characters...people we all know."– 5 stars from Terri at Night Owl Romance
"Tender, poignant and touches the reader."– Cherokee at Coffee Time Romance & More
"It's Molly's flaws that make her seem so real, so honest."– Shon at Me, My Book and the Couch
"A mix of mystery, humor and chutzpah"– Leah at Culturistas
"Amazing! Koslow breathes a depth into Molly that makes you remember her after you close the cover."– Kimberly at BooksNMoore
"This book really pulled me in... Everyone who likes funny, lively writing will love it."– Open Salon
"An optimistic rendering of what it means to be human and confused"– Dory at For the Love of Reading
"I really liked Molly. A little like The Lovely Bones without the gut-wrenching."– Marissa at Writings of the Loud Librarian....: Books A Lot
"A gem...I felt in love with the main character."– Kay at Goodreads.com
"I really liked this book-the beginning and end made me cry like a baby."– Jennifer at GoodReads
"Very funny and touching"– Amy at Goodreads.com
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Read an Excerpt
Kill Me Now
When I imagined my funeral, this wasn’t what I had in mind. First of all, I hoped I would be old, a stately ninetysomething who’d earned the right to be called elegant; a woman with an intimate circle of loved ones fanned out in front of her, their tender sorrow connecting them like lace.
I definitely hoped to be in a far more beautiful place—a stone chapel by the sea, perhaps, with pounding purple-gray waves drowning out mourners’ sobs. For no apparent reason—I’m not even Scottish—there would be wailing bagpipes, men in Campbell tartan, and charmingly reserved grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren, coaxed into reciting their own sweet poetry. I don’t know where the children’s red curls come from, since my hair is chemically enhanced blond and straight as a ruler. The bereaved—incredibly, those weepy old souls are my own kids—dab away tears with linen handkerchiefs, though on every other occasion they have used only tissues. The service takes place shortly before sunset in air fragrant with lilacs. Spring. At least where I grew up, in the Chicago suburbs, that’s what lilacs signify: the end of a long winter, life beginning anew.
I didn’t expect to be here, in a cavernous, dimly lit Manhattan synagogue. I didn’t expect to be surrounded by at least four hundred people, a good three hundred of whom I don’t recall talking to even once. Most of all, I didn’t expect to be young. Well, maybe some people don’t think thirty-five is young, but I do. It’s far too young to die, because while my story isn’t quite at the beginning, it isn’t at the end, either. Except that it is.
She’s dead, all those bodies in the pews must be thinking. Depressing. On that last count, they would be wrong. In fact, if the congregation knew my whole story—and I hope they will, eventually, because I need people on my side, not on his, and especially not on hers—it would be clear that I, Molly Divine Marx, have not lost my joie de vivre. On that point, I speak the truth.
“She would be here if she could,” he says. “She would be here if she could.” That’s Rabbi Strauss Sherman, pontificating over to my right. I wish he were the twinkly junior rabbi whose adult ed classes I kept telling myself I should take, not that I am—was—keen on the music of Jews in Uganda. But the speaker is the senior rabbi, the one who says everything twice, like an echo, though it stopped short of being profound the first time. I suppose I should get off on the fact that he’s the big-shot rabbi invited to homes of people who contribute gigabucks and, thus, rate succulent, white-meat honors on holidays. I wonder if Barry, my husband, made sure Rabbi S.S. spoke today just to stick it to me, since whenever he gave a sermon I’d squirm and mutter, “Kill me now.” I’d hate to think God decided on payback.
I realize I am not being kind about either Rabbi S.S. or the heartsick husband. Barry’s sizable schnozz is chapped from crying, and I caught more than a few people noticing as he discreetly swiped his nose on the sleeve of his black suit, soft worsted in a fine cut. Armani? they’re wondering. Not a chance. It is a close facsimile purchased at an outlet center near Milan, but if they took it for Armani, Barry would be glad. That was the general idea.
Perhaps some women in the pews wonder what I’m dressed in. The casket is closed—talk about a bad hair day—but I am being buried in a red dress. Okay, it’s more of a burgundy, but one thing that’s putting a smile on my face (only metaphorically, unfortunately) is that for all eternity I will get to wear this dress, which cost way too much, even 40 percent off at Barneys, where I rarely shop because it’s generally a rip-off. I’m sure if it had been up to my mother-in-law, the enchanting Kitty Katz, today I would have been stuffed into a button-down shirt and pleated pants that made me look like a sumo wrestler, but my sister, Lucy, intervened. Lucy and I have had our moments, but she knew how psyched I was to be wearing the dress to a Valentine’s party this coming Saturday. Go, Luce.
Wherever it is I’m off to, I hope they notice the shoes—black satin, terrifyingly high slingbacks, with excellent toe cleavage. I only wore them once, those shoes, and that night Barry and I barely left the dance floor. When we shimmied and whirled, it was almost like sex: we became the couple people thought we were. The Dr. and Mrs. Marx I, at least, wanted us to be. I loved watching Barry move his runner’s body in that subtle but provocative way of his, and how he nestled his hand on the small of my back, then cupped my butt for the whole world to see. It’s a pity we couldn’t have merengued through life as if it were one endless Fred and Ginger movie.
Will there be dancing where I’m headed? I digress. I do that. Drove Barry nuts.
“Our dear Molly Marx, she would be here if she could,” Rabbi S.S. is saying. That makes three. “The circumstances of her death may be mysterious, but it is not for us to judge. It is not for us to judge.”
As soon as someone tells you not to judge, you do. Everyone in this chilly sanctuary is judging—both Barry and me. I can hear it all, what’s in people’s heads as well as on their lips.
“She had a boyfriend? That mouse?”
“You have it all wrong. He had a girlfriend.”
“If it’s suicide, then why the ginormous funeral?”
I hear a smug tone. “For Jews, with a suicide it’s the burial place that gets questioned, not the funeral.”
“He won’t be single for six months.”
“Especially with the little girl.”
Yes, there is a child. Annabel Divine Marx, almost four, black velvet dress, patent leather Mary Janes. My Annie-belle is clutching Alfred the bunny, and the look on her face could make Hitler weep. Right now, I will not allow myself the luxury of thinking about my baby, who wonders where her mommy is and when this nasty dream will end. If I could be alive for five more minutes, they would be spent memorizing Annabel’s heartbeat and synchronizing it with my own, tracing the bones in her birdlike shoulders, stroking the creamy softness of her skin. I will always be Annabel’s mother. My mantra.
People can call me anything, but in the mommy department, there was never a moment when I wasn’t trying to do the right thing. I attempted to live for my child—not through her, for her. I tried. I really did. I never would have abandoned Annabel. Nothing ever mattered more to me than my unconditional love for her, a long, unbroken line that continues even now. The best compliment I ever got was from Barry when he said simply, a few weeks after Annabel was born, “Molly, you get motherhood. You really do.”
“Our dear Molly, our lovely Molly,” the rabbi is saying. “She was so many things. To our grieving Barry—a trustee of this very institution—she was a beloved wife of almost seven years, a woman with her whole life ahead of her. To Annabel, she was Mommy, tender, devoted. To her parents, Claire and Daniel Divine, she was a cherished daughter, and to Lucy Divine, she was an adored twin sister, absolutely adored. To her colleagues, she was a . . .” Rabbi S.S. refers to his notes. “A decorating editor at a magazine.”
Wrong. I stopped being a decorating editor when Annabel was born. Lately, I was a freelance stylist—the person who brings in the tall white orchids and fluffs a room so when it’s photographed for a magazine it shames most of the readers, since there’s no way their homes are ever going to look like that. Then they blink and smugly wonder if people actually live in that picture with not one family snapshot in a teddy bear frame sold at a Hallmark store. Who actually buys white couches and scratchy sisal rugs? How do you clean them? They turn the page.
I wasn’t brokering peace in the Middle East, or even teaching nursery school like my twin sister. But I loved my work, and in my sliver of a world, I was a giant. What I could do with a mantel was almost art. People must have hated inviting me to their homes, for fear that I’d rearrange their bookshelves and suggest that they sell half of their tchotchkes on eBay.
“Molly was a loyal friend, an accomplished biker, a graduate of Northwestern University with a major in art history.”
Is the rabbi going to recite my entire résumé? Disclose that I was rejected from Brown and never made it off the Wesleyan wait-list? Share that I took a junior semester in Florence and skipped every class—did I even buy textbooks?—while Emilio fra Diavolo taught me Italian of the nonverbal variety? Mention the two jobs from which I was fired and the fourteen-month gap between them? Point out that Barry and I were seeing a marriage counselor?
There’s Dr. Stafford right there. Goodness, she looks quite moved. I always imagined that when Barry and I were carrying on at her sessions she was thinking, How did I get stuck with these two completely shallow, nonintrospective, loser brats? Oh, I have three private school tuitions to pay. That’s why. But I see tears and I can tell they are real.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, and when he takes away big-time, I have discovered he compensates you with a finely tuned bullshit detector. It is a minor consolation, but I think I am going to like it.
“And now we will hear from Molly’s husband,” the rabbi says. “Barry. Dr. Barry Marx.”
Barry kisses Annabel on the head and untangles his hand from hers. She takes a look at Kitty—who forbids the word grandma—and considers whether to move closer to her. “Kitty smells funny,” she used to say. “It’s just her cigarettes, honey,” I would respond. “Don’t smoke when you grow up or you’ll smell funny, too.” I hope Annabel remembers that. If she becomes a nose-ringed, tattooed fourteen-year- old hanging out in the East Village with a cigarette dangling from her lips . . . there won’t be a damn thing I can do about it.
Kitty is wearing a severe black suit—either Gucci or Valentino. She’d be horrified to know I can’t tell or appreciate the difference, though I admit it looks stunningly appropriate. The tailoring shows off her yoga-buffed sixty-four-year-old body, which, in clothes, we both privately acknowledge looks a good bit better than mine. Today she seems to have hijacked the first floor of Tiffany’s. With Kitty, more is more. She is wearing diamond studs the size of knuckles, a sapphire-and-emerald brooch dribbling over her breast like Niagara Falls with a bracelet to match, and a black lizard handbag that, no doubt, contains her smokes.
I hope Annabel eventually inherits some of Kitty’s baubles. I’m not saying Kitty’s glad I’m dead, but at least she has a good excuse now for not willing me any jewelry.
When Barry arrives at the front of the synagogue and bounds up the six steps, he clears his throat and takes some notes from his jacket. He tears them in half with a flourish. I knew he would do that! We saw the same stunt at my aunt Julie’s funeral last year. Does he think my family won’t notice he stole it? Ah, but he doesn’t really care about them, does he? And what makes it worse is that except for the Divines, everyone in the congregation is buying into his heart-wrenching grief. From every corner, I hear sniffles and snorts and see tiny tributaries of tears.
“I fell in love with Molly when I was a senior at college,” he begins.
I was a sophomore. He was the pre-med guy who finally had room in his schedule for a class on twentieth-century art and took a seat next to me in a darkened auditorium. Barry wanted to become a collector, he said, and I remember thinking the remark pretentious; no one I knew aspired to own anything more than an Alex Katz dog litho or a student’s work snagged at a silent auction on open-studio night. But Barry dreamed on a grand scale. When five years later I found out that he’d become a plastic surgery resident at Mount Sinai in Manhattan, I wasn’t surprised. If ever a doctor were born to woo women into rhinoplasty, it was Barry Marx, who managed to incorporate his own nose into his well-delivered pitch.
At least forty of his patients must be here today. All those weepers with the delicate, symmetrical noses aren’t my mommy-buddies, magazine pals, book club friends, or cycling partners. Do Barry’s patients have a phone tree, like the one at Annabel’s school in case of inclement weather? Did someone start making calls at 5:30 a.m.? “Sorry to wake you, but I thought you’d want to know Barry Marx is single. The funeral’s at ten. Pass it on.”
“There are four things you should know about my wife, Molly,” Barry begins. “First, she had the most musical laugh in the whole world. Many of you know that laugh. I married her for that laugh. I cannot believe I will never hear it again.”
So far, okay. To be fair, there was a lot of laughing, and no one thinks Barry married me for my breasts, which most wives of plastic surgeons would have had enlarged from nectarines to melons.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
Sally Koslow is the author of the novel Little Pink Slips. Her essays have been published in More, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The New York Observer, among other publications. She was the editor in chief of both McCall’s and Lifetime, was an editor at Mademoiselle and Woman’s Day, and has taught creative writing at the Writing Institute of Sarah Lawrence College. The mother of two sons, she lives in New York City with her husband.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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"The Late, Lamented Molly Marx" (I love the alliteral title) was a fairly quick read, and I'd categorize it under "Chick Lit Mystery." There were no scary scenes, no gory parts. Molly Marx has recently died in a tragic biking accident. Who was responsible? Was it a suicide? Was it murder? If so, was it the wealthy cheating husband? One of his mistresses? Her snooty mother-in-law? Her fling? Her sister? Her best friend? The chapters toggle between Molly's life leading up to the accident and her life in the hereafter. Like Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones," the main character floats around as a ghost in the land of the living. She can see what's going on with those close to her and even hear their thoughts. She's determined to find out and remember what happened that resulted in her death. Even in death, though, Molly finds humor: "I will, forever, be only six exits away from IKEA." The characters and situations weren't very complex, but it was easy to remember who was who and what was going on. When I first started reading the novel, I enjoyed just following Molly along her path, but as the story went on, I became more and more intrigued by the mystery of "what happened." I was a little disappointed in the "Big Reveal" (and had to reread it twice), but still enjoyed the story nonetheless.
I read this book for a book club and thought that the setting would be more along the line of messages from the 'other side'. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn't have that feeling. It was an interesting way to view life after death. Although Molly's death is a mystery the majority of the story is a reflection on her life not her attempt to solve her murder from the grave.
This book will keep you guessing to the end. How did Molly die? Was it suicide, accident or murder? One of my favorite characters was Bob, Molly's guide angel. I loved that it took place in New York City, the greatest city in the world! I would classify this book as chick-lit mystery. I liked the cover art and the title-very eye catching. It was a light hearted quick read. I read this for my book club and we all enjoyed it. Nothing too deep, a great escape with a little bit of humor thrown in. I would definately recommend this book. I will look for more from this author.
Molly Marx dies at the young age of 35. Proceeding her death, she finds herself in the Duration. While here, she helplessly watches her family and friends mourn her passing. The Duration allows her to hear their inner most thoughts (some she wishes she knew while still alive). It's here where Molly is truly able to make amends with herself, her marriage and the events leading to her death. Molly is not perfect, by any means. In fact, it's her flaws that make her seem so real, so honest. She's married to Barry, mother to Annabel and twin sister to Lucy. Molly attempts to be all to everyone and tries to please them, so much so that she loses herself in the process. The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, to me, isn't a book about death. It's about the choices we make and the consequences that occur from those choices. As Molly watches the police piece together the events that led to her death, the reader hears Molly's story from her perspective and is able to understand the conflicted life she lead. One cannot help but to empathize with Molly and hopes she will find peace within herself.
what a wonderful book to read for a few hours of sentiment and joy! how can a novel about someone who is departed and lamented be delightful?? Sally Koslow manages to create a lovely story from the point of view of a woman coping with her role in death and her observations of her family after she leaves this worls and observes from her perch on the way to heaven.
Enjoyed the book tremendously........until the very end. I like my mysteries to have a resolution.....this one did not.
Very disappointing read...moves too slowly and I got tired of the looks back at the lies and cheating that made up their lives. Dli Illinois
I read half of the book before finally giving up and moving onto to something better. I was not the least bit engaged by any of the characters or their situation and not interested in finding out who killed Molly. The premise was promising but poorly executed.
Not the most engaging read and far more wordy than it needs to be.
I was caught up in this story about a young NYC mother married to a philandering cosmetic surgeon . The story was well written and the mystery imbedded in the tale was enough to keep the reader guessing. Skip this if you have a problem with infidelity in marriage. Otherwise, I found the snapshots of New York living entertaining especially when considering what a wife will put up with in order to maintain an extravagant lifestyle.
I really enjoyed this book. The characters were very real with their own various human faults and opinions. I recommend this fun read.
A good read. Keeps you guessing and wanting to read more.
Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!
I very much enjoyed the witty way in which this story is told. Although a mystery was the background story, the author's use of language made it very entertaining. I highly recommend this book.
Great character development,story and writing style. I could not put it down.
I loved this book.. it was funny, touching and unexpected.. sorry to see it end.. highly recommend
I really enjoyed this book. I wouldn't say it's the best thing I've ever read, but the writing was well done and I enjoyed the perspective of the narrator.
I picked this up for a change of pace from the mysteries I usually read. I really liked this book. That is until the end. I was dissapointed with the way it was all wrapped up. I do like a book that ties up all the ends. I am still glad that I read the book, just a little sad by the ending.