Motherland: A Novel

Motherland: A Novel

by Amy Sohn
Motherland: A Novel

Motherland: A Novel

by Amy Sohn


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With her trademark blend of “social satire, interpersonal drama, and urban glamour” (The New York Times), New York Times bestselling author Amy Sohn delivers a candid, unsentimental look at modern marriage.

With her trademark blend of “social satire, interpersonal drama, and urban glamour” (The New York Times), Amy Sohn delivers a candid, unsentimental look at modern marriage. In her deliciously entertaining Motherland, Sohn introduces us to five parents who find themselves adrift professionally and personally. Rebecca Rose is tempted by the attentions of a former celebrity flame; Marco Goldstein, alone with two kids when his husband is away on business, turns to anonymous sex for comfort; Danny Gottlieb leaves his wife and children to pitch a film (and meet young women) in Los Angeles; Karen Bryan Shapiro, devastated by her husband’s infidelity and abandonment, attempts a fresh start with a hot single dad; and former A-list actress Melora Leigh plots a star turn on Broadway to revive her Hollywood career. As their stories intersect in surprising ways and their deceptions spiral out of control, they begin to question their beliefs about family, happiness, and themselves. Equal parts moving and wickedly funny, Motherland is a fresh take on modern marriage that confirms Amy Sohn as one of our most insightful commentators on relationships and parenting in America today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439158500
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 07/02/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 341
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Amy Sohn’s novels include Prospect Park West, Motherland, The Actress, and The Man Who Hated Women. Her articles have appeared in New York, Harper’s Bazaar, Playboy, and The Nation. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Read an Excerpt


“His hair’s getting really red,” Joanne Shanahan told Rebecca at Dyer Pond, leaning over in her beach chair to inspect the boy’s pate.

“It’s just the light,” Rebecca answered quickly, adjusting Benny’s sun hat. He was napping on a Marimekko blanket next to her.

“No, it really looks red,” Joanne said. “I never noticed it before.” A former ballerina, Joanne was tall and athletic and had an irritating tendency to stand in fifth position.

“It’ll probably wind up brown,” Rebecca said. “I was blond at his age. I had the most gorgeous hair of my life when I was too young to capitalize on it. I had Bergdorf hair.”

Joanne nodded, but Rebecca worried that she would go on. It was a bad sign that Joanne had noticed Benny’s hair, because of all the mothers in the Crowd she had the least interest in other people’s children. Appearance change in kids—along with such topics as parental resemblance and character differences between siblings—was the conversational province of Other moms, not the Crowd mothers, who prided themselves on their lack of interest in motherhood. The Crowd—the group of Park Slope parents whom Rebecca and Theo socialized with in Wellfleet—came to Dyer Pond every morning because it was hidden and only those in the know were aware of it. You had to park your car in the woods at a possibly illegal spot and walk down a long path until you arrived at a tiny embankment. Dyer Pond’s visitors tended to be locals, older kids, and even the occasional (anomalous in Wellfleet) childless couple. Locals were preferable to the Park Slopers the Crowd bumped into daily at the more popular Long Pond, the ocean beaches, and Hatch’s Produce in town.

Though all members of the Crowd lived in Park Slope, they didn’t like running into other Slopers on vacation and didn’t like other Slopers in general. They had moved to Park Slope from the Upper West Side and the East Village with resignation, for the children’s benefit, and mocked their parent neighbors as if they were cut from different cloth. The Crowd vacationed in Wellfleet to get out of Park Slope but also to be with one another, and they didn’t like anyone else to get in the way of that.

Andy Shanahan and Danny Gottlieb—called Gottlieb by everyone, including his own wife—were the founding members of the Crowd. Friends for twenty years, they had been roommates at Princeton and had a series of elaborate private jokes dating back half their lives. Though Joanne Shanahan and CC Gottlieb were not as overtly funny as their husbands, through osmosis and a desire to link themselves the way their husbands were linked, over the decade they had known each other they had cultivated their own bantering style, one that included jibes about neurotic mothers, an avowed if partially faked hostility toward their children, and much talk of their heavy wine drinking.

Rebecca had met CC a year and a half before, when Rebecca was pregnant with Benny. CC was on the bench in front of Connecticut Muffin at the post–P.S. 321 drop-off. This was where the mothers went to gossip, gorge on bagels under the guise of feeding them to their babies, and once in a while read the newspaper. CC’s then-infant, Harry, was in her lap, and Rebecca overheard her tell a friend, “Now that the other one’s in kindergarten and I only have Harry, it’s like being on medication.” Rebecca had smiled and caught CC’s eye.

Another day when CC was without her friends, Rebecca noticed a man who disgustingly let his dog sit on one of the shop’s outdoor benches. After the man left, Rebecca said to CC, “Some people have no consideration,” and they started to chat.

The friendship came quickly and easily, and soon they began to socialize with the children. The Korean-American CC had taken Gottlieb as her last name because her maiden name was Ho, and she had been ridiculed for it in high school. Only a last name like Ho could make Gottlieb seem an improvement. CC was a stay-at-home mom but more sarcastic than most, which was why Rebecca liked her. CC joked about the junk food she fed her sons, called herself a housewife, and said things like “You know you need to go back to work when you get introduced at parties as ‘a witty Facebooker.’” After CC told Rebecca that the Gottliebs went to Wellfleet every summer, Rebecca decided they would go, too, and the two families had bonded. This was their second summer vacationing together, and though Theo and Rebecca were not quite full Crowd members, she felt they were definitely on the advisory board.

On this particular Tuesday in late August, CC was taking a tennis lesson at Olivers’ Red Clay courts on Route 6. Twenty feet away from Rebecca, in the water, Theo was helping their daughter, Abbie, three and a half, float on her back. She had water wings on, but he was trying to get her confident in the water. Gottlieb’s younger son, Harry, two, was digging in the sand in front of Rebecca. Gottlieb was standing about forty feet out, with his older son, Sam, six, who was circling in a SpongeBob floatie, and Joanne’s daughter, Francine, also six.

When did “float” become “floatie”? Sippies, floaties, onesies—the parents spoke as though they were babies themselves. Rebecca, who was thirty-six, frequently made the observations of what she felt would be an older mother, a baby boomer who had borne children in the early seventies, even though she had no idea what it had really been like. Because she found most mothers at best inane and at worst insane, she frequently felt alienated. In seven years in Park Slope, she had only one close friend—CC. There had been another when Abbie was a baby, but she moved to Tribeca after her musician husband got a job playing in the house band on a TV show.

Rebecca had a higher-than-average daily level of irritation but was having a particularly hard time on this vacation. Her family kept losing things: so far a pair of goggles, a trucker cap, and a beach towel. Theo shrugged and moved on, but she obsessed for days, turning over pillows in a fruitless attempt to find them, calculating the monetary loss, reprimanding Abbie for her carelessness. She felt ornery and didn’t know why.

One problem was the rental. The prior summer, she and Theo had their own rental, with three bedrooms, laundry (a luxury in Wellfleet), and a stunning view of the Wellfleet harbor. This time they were renting with the Gottliebs. She had read an article in The New York Times on modernist houses on the Cape and tracked down a five-thousand-dollar-a-week cottage on Long Pond Road designed by Robert Pander, a lesser-known Modernist architect. It had been built in 1970 in a Frank Lloyd Wright style, with horizontal planes, narrow staircases, and ample natural light. Theo, an architect, had expressed doubts about it based on the online photos, claiming it was likely to be cold due to the cinder blocks, but Rebecca and CC went crazy for it, and the men caved.

It turned out Theo had been right. It was impersonal, damp, and depressing. Sound carried easily, and Rebecca worried that the Gottliebs could hear them making love. Nor was it a child-friendly cottage; both Benny and Harry had already been injured by sharp corners, and at night the place felt haunted.

She was also regretting the cost. They had opted to come for three weeks instead of two this summer, and she was worried it had been financially imprudent. Theo was an associate at his firm, but their expenses over the past year had been astronomical. Their Tibetan nanny, Sonam, had raised her rate by two dollars an hour when Benny was born, and they were now paying her almost forty thousand dollars a year. The tuition at Beansprouts, where Abbie went three days a week, was another nine thousand. And that spring Rebecca had opened her own vintage clothing store on Fourth Avenue in Gowanus. With its retro sixties jumpers and unworn Garanimals, Seed had gotten a lot of press but wasn’t yet in the black.

Because she was owner and clerk, she had shut down for the entire vacation. She had not anticipated being so agitated to be away from the store and was kicking herself for not hiring someone, even temporary, to manage it while she was gone. Her failure to delegate, she worried, would make her lose more business than she could afford to.

And now Benny’s hair was turning red, and Joanne was asking questions. Just the other day at the Wellfleet market, a woman had referred to it as auburn, and Rebecca had winced, relieved that Theo was off in the wine aisle.

Rebecca was wearing a purple French bikini that she had bought at a boutique on Seventh Avenue. Looking down, she decided it wasn’t cut quite right and made her breasts look saggier than they were. She tightened the neck strap to create a higher profile and glanced down at the book she had checked out of the Wellfleet Public Library, Midnights by Alec Wilkinson, about a year in the Wellfleet police department during the eighties. “How is that?” Joanne said.

“Did you know a boat once came into the Wellfleet harbor with two hundred and fifty pounds of marijuana on it?” Rebecca asked. “It was called The Mischief.

“How come stuff like that never happens in Wellfleet anymore?”

“Because people from Park Slope started coming here.” She looked out at Joanne’s husband, Andy, who was in the middle of Dyer Pond on a striped rectangular float that had a built-in beverage holder. He was sipping from a bottle of microbrew. Heavyset and pale, he was a former English teacher who had become a national celebrity after getting cast in a popular series of cell phone commercials for a company called Speed. On the ads, he played a man trying to break up with his girlfriend over the phone by repeating the phrase “I’m dumping you” in various environments, though the girlfriend was never able to hear him because of a bad connection. Within months he had become one of the most recognizable faces in Park Slope, more famous than John Turturro or Morgan Spurlock.

“How come you let him drink beer and make Gottlieb watch Francine?” Rebecca asked.

“Andy’s easier to be around when he’s happy.”

Rebecca often wondered if Andy cheated on Joanne when he went off to shoot movies and commercials in L.A. It was hard to tell. They had been together since right after Princeton, almost fifteen years. Just because someone was successful didn’t mean he cheated. CC said Andy was too whipped to cheat, but Rebecca wasn’t sure she believed it. Maybe he did, and Joanne knew and didn’t care.

Benny stirred and began to cry. Rebecca lowered the fabric of her bikini and put him to her breast in hopes that he would return to sleep. Though he had been walking since ten months and was showing some interest in the potty, she was still nursing him on demand. Her enjoyment of it had surprised her—with Abbie, she’d been in a rush to stop, but she was conscious that Benny would be her last baby. That made the nursing precious.

A little boy next to Harry Gottlieb was fighting with him over a shovel. “Let him use it, Harry,” Rebecca said, grabbing the shovel and passing it to the boy. Harry screamed in protest. Joanne passed him a fish mold and showed him how to pack it with sand. This placated him temporarily.

A young woman had waded into the pond with her daughter, a little blond girl. The woman looked like a porn star, with long dirty-blond hair, glasses, a slim waist, and enormous breasts. The daughter was talking to Francine.

Porn Star Mom wore a black triangle-cut bikini, and Rebecca noticed a braided rope tattoo running down the center of her spine. The combination of the tattoo, the knockout body, and glasses made Rebecca curious. She reasoned that the woman worked as a bartender or stripper; she had the kind of body that indicated she made a living from it.

Though Gottlieb was clearly addressing the mother, he was facing the shore. Instead of looking directly at her, he would glance at her sideways, as though in denial that he was flirting. His arms were crossed over his chest, and his fingers were tucked under his biceps so that they seemed larger than they were.

Gottlieb was Rebecca’s least favorite member of the Crowd. He had a fake laugh that he employed when she said something funny, and it was different from the raucous one he used with Andy and Theo. When she or any other woman in the Crowd told a story longer than a minute, he would interject “Uh-huh” so often that it seemed he wasn’t listening at all. She felt he was sexist, one of those guys who didn’t take women seriously. Worse, he frequently up-talked. This conversational habit had become a plague—even toddlers up-talked nowadays—but in Gottlieb, it seemed to reflect snobbery. “Where did you go to school?” she had asked during one of her first dinners at their apartment.

“Princeton?” he had answered, as though there were several.

“Look at that,” Rebecca said now, tapping Joanne’s arm.


“Gottlieb’s puffing out his biceps. His guns. To impress that woman.”

“Oh my God.”

“I wonder what CC would say if she were here.”

“What would she care? She knows he likes to look.”

Rebecca saw some motion in front of her in the water and turned to see what it was. Theo was racing away from Abbie, his face racked with urgency. He pulled something up in the shallow area in front of Rebecca. It was little Harry, pond water pouring out of his mouth. He had wandered in when she and Joanne were gossiping, and neither of them had noticed.

He must have gone under. His eyes were rolling, and Rebecca felt fearful for him and guilty that she hadn’t watched him more closely. Theo whacked him on the back, and Harry coughed up a large amount of pond water and then cried. It was a healthy, live cry. Gottlieb was running over in long, awkward leaps, splashing Porn Star Mom’s dry bikini as he moved.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Motherland includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Amy Sohn. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


It’s just before Labor Day and five mothers and fathers in Cape Cod, Park Slope, and Greenwich Village find themselves adrift professionally and personally. Rebecca Rose, whose husband has been acting aloof, is tempted by the attentions of a former celebrity flame; Marco Goldstein, saddled with two kids as his husband Todd goes on a business trip, turns to sex with strangers for comfort; Danny Gottlieb, a screenwriter on the cusp of a big break, leaves his wife and children to pitch a film (and meet young women) in Los Angeles; fallen sanctimommy Karen Bryan Shapiro, devastated by her husband’s infidelity and abandonment, attempts a fresh start with a hot single dad; and former A-List movie star Melora Leigh plots a star turn on Broadway to revive her Hollywood career. As their stories intersect in surprising ways and their deceptions spiral out of control, they begin to question their beliefs about family, happiness, and themselves. Equal parts moving and richly entertaining, Motherland confirms Amy Sohn as one of our most insightful commentators on relationships and parenting in America today.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. The characters in Motherland all are struggling with the current state of their lives. Are there specific characters with whom you feel a kinship or with empathize with more? Who would you be friends with?

2. Rebecca and CC both strive not to appear like stressed-out Park Slope moms, even though that’s exactly what they are. According to Motherland, what are the hallmarks and traits of “typical” Park Slope moms? Are they overall good with their children? What are their greatest faults?

3. On p. 67, referring to Marco, the author writes: “There were moments when he felt like he was imprisoned in Motherland. The land of child rearing, and nurturing, and nonstop care.” How do Marco’s experiences in “Motherland” differ from those of his friends, like Rebecca? What does it mean to be a gay parent in Park Slope, as opposed to a straight one? A man as opposed to a woman?

4. Although Motherland contains a lot of humor—and more than one risqué sex scene—it contains a real sense of pathos as well. How do you think the novel pulls off this balance between escapism and real-life perspective?

5. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is a motivator for several of this book’s characters. How much are the characters in Motherland motivated by peer pressure? How does this philosophy help or hinder their goals?

6. Although Karen lives near some of the other characters in Motherland, her circumstances throughout much of the novel are quite different. What are the unique challenges Karen faces as a single mom? Does she have a good support system?

7. The Park Slope stroller-stealer is supposed to be reacting against the evils of gentrification. What do the strollers represent to Helene and why do they anger her so? What do the strollers represent in terms of public space? What does she miss about the old days of the neighborhood? Do you find her actions hypocritical?

8. Many of the characters in Motherland (Melora, in particular) have interactions with real-life celebrities. And even the ones who don’t interact with celebrities themselves regularly use pop-culture references and descriptions. What do you think this obsession with celebrity—and trends such as mumblecore or Grindr—tells you about these characters, and about the ways they live their lives?

9. Motherland is told from the point of view of five main characters—Rebecca, Karen, Marco, Gottlieb, and Melora—and readers experience their partners and their family life through their eyes. What would CC’s side of the story look like? Or Todd’s or Theo’s? In a similar vein, what would the children of these couples say if they had a chance to tell their own side of the story?

11. Park Slope isn’t the only location whose natives are stereotyped. When Karen goes to the supper club in Williamsburg, or Gottlieb goes out to Los Angeles, it’s clear that every city—even subsections of cities—have their own cultures, their own identities. What are the hallmarks of your own town? If you were to write a satire of your own neighborhood, what traits would you include?

12. The author uses doubling in the novel with regard to fathers and daughters. How does doubling affect your reading of the novel? What is the author trying to say about father-daughter relationships and the bind between parents and children in general?

13. How does the theme of water relate to Gottlieb’s predicament? What does water represent to him in terms of his relationship to his children, his sexual desire, and his professional ambition?

14. Each of the relationships in the book has its share of secrets and betrayals Do you think this is an accurate portrayal of marriage today? How honest do we need to be with our partners to make a relationship work?

15. The conclusion of Motherland is about new beginnings—Rebecca is focusing on her career; Karen and Wesley merge their personal and professional lives; Marco and Eduard reconnect; Melora and Gottlieb meet. Do you think these fresh starts will ultimately bring these characters happiness? Why or why not?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Motherland details the triumphs and hardships of a privileged class of society, but many parents and children are much less fortunate. Work with your book group members to donate to your favorite charity—whether it’s running a toy drive for Toys for Tots, gathering clothing for your local Salvation Army, or raising money for the Make A Wish Foundation.

2. The characters in Motherland interact with a fair share of celebrities. Imagine that Motherland is adapted into a film and you are the Hollywood casting director. Who would you cast for each role?

3. Karen attends an illegal supper club in Williamsburg, where she pays a hefty sum to eat an incredible meal. No need to break the law—create your own supper club by assigning each member of your book group to bring a dish or two to your regular book group meeting and make a meal out of it. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a wine pairing for each course!

4. In Motherland, Melora makes her career comeback in Lanford Wilson’s play, Fifth of July. Read the play with your book group, and assign parts. As you read, think about the performance choices Melora makes in order to play the role of Gwen. How would you play her? Are there any themes in the play that echo the themes of the novel?

A Conversation with Amy Sohn

Can you tell us a bit about your novel?

Motherland is about five mothers and fathers in Manhattan, Cape Cod, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles whose lives become unglued one summer and fall. The book is about parenthood, marriage, and the limitations of domestic life. It’s about what happens when you look around and realize you’ve given up on yourself because you were too busy worrying about other people. In engaging with my characters, I was struck by their universal need for freedom and the cost of pursuing that freedom.

The lives of your characters quickly start spiraling out of control as each struggles to find happiness in their careers and in the bedroom. How does parenthood force us to reinvent ourselves and/or redefine our expectations?

As I explored in my prior novel, Prospect Park West, parenthood has a dark side. It is thrilling, moving, and life-altering, but it is also a lot of work. My generation of parents tends to ignore our own needs in favor of our children’s, not just for the first year or two of parenthood but for much longer. This can take a toll on our marriages. Like it says in the song on “Free to Be . . . You and Me,” parents are people. Just because a woman becomes a mother, doesn’t mean she wants to stop having sex forever (though I can hear certain mothers across the nation crying out, “Yes it does!”). And just because a guy’s married, doesn’t mean he wants to feel invisible to other women. In Motherland, I explore the psychic costs of disregarding our needs.

Do you think the issues for mothers and fathers are different? How so?

In general, fathers are said to have an easier adjustment to parenthood. Their libido is said to return quickly. Some love the newfound responsibility and are inspired to work harder at their jobs. In a good marriage, it is often the father who reminds the mother that she must not neglect couplehood in favor of the children. But all fathers are different and not all have an easy time.

Gottlieb and Marco, the two dads in Motherland, are struggling with their new roles. Gottlieb is shocked to find that fatherhood hasn’t moved him the way he had hoped it might, and the way it has moved some of his peers. He’s just not that into it. He loves his wife and kids but feels like a stranger in his family, as if he is living someone else’s life.

Marco has taken to fatherhood, but he only wanted one child. His husband Todd, though, is set on having two and Marco soon re-enters the world of sleeplessness and colic that he thought he had just escaped. He feels sexually neglected by Todd and burdened by the domestic demands, which fall on his shoulders since he has the less demanding work schedule of the two. In response to the stress, he turns to drinking and seeking out strangers for sex through a gay GPS app. Neither Gottlieb nor Marco would win Father of the Year, but I’m not interested in writing novels about the guys who would.

Interestingly, the mothers in this book are all okay moms. Their issues center more on how to make money, be creatively fulfilled, transition from separation to divorce, and experience love than on how to parent their children. Perhaps this book is about fatherhood more than motherhood, despite its title.

In your writing you often alternate between very funny and very dark. Do you consider this a black comedy?

All of my novels are black comedies and my favorite writers, like Bruce Jay Friedman, are experts in the genre. I tend to be funniest when I am writing about a character who is really suffering and can’t quite seem to rebound. A writer boyfriend once advised me to “torture the heroine.” My characters tend to have downward spirals. Melora is trying to revive her acting career by doing theater and there are jokes about how desperate a person has to be before she does a straight play. Gottlieb has one of those nights in Los Angeles that starts out very very good, and soon gets very very bad, which is pretty much every single night in L.A.

Why do you like exploring sex in your books? Why do you think so few modern female novelists do so?

Sex to me is a great way to show character. It’s also a great vehicle for comedy. In Motherland, the marital sex scenes show the ridiculous aspects of having sex with the same person for ten or fifteen years. I have never approached sex scenes like a romance novelist, where the sex is hot, the men as muscled as Fabio, and the women “ravished.” In my books, the sex is awkward, ridiculous, complicated, and embarrassing. Frequently it does not end in orgasm, for one or both characters. I hope my sex scenes turn people on but my main goal is that they reveal character. A friend once said to me, “I was laughing and aroused at the same time.” I took it as a compliment.

The characters in Motherland are very much dominated by their sexuality and often act in imprudent ways because of it. I like writing women whose sex drives are as high as any man’s because I don’t think we hear from these women enough except in comedic, campy ways. And I enjoy reading about sex. I wish more women novelists addressed sex in an honest way because I don’t think a portrait of singlehood or marriage can be complete without a portrait of the characters’ sex lives.

Talk about the universal appeal of your book, despite the fact that it’s primarily set in Brooklyn. Do you think this story could take place in other parts of the country?

Whether you call it Silver Lake or Wicker Park, every major American city has a “Park Slope.” It’s a neighborhood where strollers and dogs dominate, there are a lot of coffee options, everyone knows what a doula is, and the public schools are good. Women dress in pajamas or gym clothes, or most disturbingly, some combination. “Bohemian bourgeois breeders” was how an editor of mine named these people. When I toured with Prospect Park West, readers had a fun time arguing about which neighborhood in their cities was most like Park Slope.

Motherland could just as easily take place in those other neighborhoods as Park Slope. To the extent that I have had my fill of satirizing my ‘hood, in this novel I was eager to place some of the action in Motherland outside of Park Slope, which is why it takes place in Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Cape Cod as well as the Slope. This is a book about people who feel confined not only by family life but the physical boundaries of their very small-seeming neighborhoods.

Three of the women of Prospect Park West, Rebecca, Karen, and Melora, reappear in Motherland. Why did you decide to revisit these characters?
At the end of Prospect Park West, Rebecca, Karen, and Melora were all at a point of transition and I wanted to revisit their lives and answer some questions that were left hanging. One of the most surprising aspects of Motherland for me was the way Melora and Karen shifted and matured. They really surprised me as they grew. The two novels are snapshots of the women at very different points in their evolution. It’s one reason I feel that the books can easily be read in reverse chronological order. You can come in at different points in their lives and be equally engaged.

Was there a specific scene in the book that was the most fun to write?

I loved Melora’s disappointing business meeting. I always feel that people find their grace or their humor when they are at their lowest. I also find the conceit of the “meeting” to be quite terrifying. Melora is humbled that she even has to take one at a point in her career in which she thought she was done.

I also enjoyed the Los Angeles night scene, where Gottlieb and his screenwriting partner hear from L.A. girls what it is like to date in Hollywood. I tried hard to make the girls smarter and spicier than the stereotype people might have of a certain kind of nubile twentysomething making a living out there. Maybe those girls will get their own spinoff book.

Is there a character in the book you most identify with? One you most dislike?

The characters I most identify with are Gottlieb and Melora. Gottlieb is less of a thinker than I am, but he is a striver and ambitious. I relate to that. He also has his own quiet spirituality that no one really knows about. As for Melora, she is an actress who knows she is smarter than her director. I was a child actress and there were moments when I felt that way, which was complicated by the fact that I was a kid. An actor shouldn’t contradict the director and a child shouldn’t contradict an adult. I understand Melora’s internal struggle and relate to her completely illogical and ill-advised sexual attraction to an older man. I’ve had a lot of those in my life.

What do you hope readers will take away from your novel?

First of all, I hope they will find the book diverting and engrossing. Second, I hope it will make them appreciate the people in their lives who love them. My characters lie to and trick their loved ones out of desperation. Their partners don’t realize how alienated they have become. I think as a parent it is all too easy to “muddle through,” where every day is okay but not great. The routine that children thrive on can become crushing for the adults. Motherland is about characters who have reached a point where they can no longer muddle through. I am not encouraging women to leave their husbands and I certainly do not want to become the Ingmar Bergman of Park Slope, causing the divorce rate to spike, but I do think parents deserve to be happy and should communicate more about what they need. I also think more parents should realize that if the adults are not happy it will have a negative impact on the kids.

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