Sarah Conley

Sarah Conley

by Ellen Gilchrist

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A New York City magazine editor and novelist returns home to the South when her closest childhood friend falls ill--and finds herself forced to choose between pursuing her career and rekindling her relationship with the man she has long considered the love of her life. NPR sponsorship.See more details below


A New York City magazine editor and novelist returns home to the South when her closest childhood friend falls ill--and finds herself forced to choose between pursuing her career and rekindling her relationship with the man she has long considered the love of her life. NPR sponsorship.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fans who have become a bit tired of the inbred, eccentric cast of characters who generally inhabit Gilchrist's short stories and novels will find the protagonist of this novel to be refreshingly new psychological territory. At 52, Sarah Conley is a successful journalist (a senior editor at Time) and an NBA winner (she wrote a roman clef that antagonized the boon companions of her youth). Bright, independent and focused, Sarah has ruthlessly pursued fulfillment as a writer. She divorced after six years of an early marriage and as a result lost custody of her son (whose paternity is in doubt) to her ex-husband, who is the brother of the man Sarah has always loved, Jack McAllenwho married Sarah's best friend, Eugenie Moore. Now Jack calls Sarah to tell her that Eugenie is dying. Sarah flies to Nashville, where she sees Eugenie one last time and feels again the passion for Jack that derailed her life once before. When she goes to Paris to write a screenplay and Jack pursues her, Sarah fears that she must make a choice between her high-powered career and the needs of her heart. It is here that Sarah may begin to grate on readers: she is just too smart, good-looking, sexy and successful, and even her dilemma lacks the drama to make her completely appealing. On the positive side, the narrative is energized by Gilchrist's comments on contemporary life, including some swipes at ethics at Time and in the movie industry. The dynamics of relationships, always her forte, have a new depth as her characters look back on the self-centered optimism of youth from the vantage point of middle-age, having become aware of their mortality, the diminishing opportunities for love and the compromises that occur in every life, no matter how fortunate. The quirky cadences of Gilchrist's prose and her witty, dialogue (though her characters talk like no one else except other Gilchrist characters) are present here in abundance. But the most salient aspect of this novel is its recognition that the past can't be revoked and the future will arrive no matter what one decides. (Sept.)
Library Journal
National Book Award winner Gilchrist (author, most recently, of Courts of Love, LJ 9/15/96) has blessed her followers with another entertaining work of fiction. It presents a complex castnot the least of these being the central character for whom the novel is named. At fiftysomething, Sarah is a high-powered editor at Time magazine and a successful novelist. At the novel's beginning, a childhood friend has died, and an old lovethe husband of that friendhas reentered her life. What seems like an easy opportunity to rekindle an old flame is more akin to mixing fire and gasoline. Gilchrist leads readers between past and present in Sarah's life and explores the marked differences between her dynamic, stressful, urban existence in both New York City and Paris and the possibility of a suburban albeit more emotionally complex life in Nashville. For general fiction collections.Faye A. Chadwell, Univ. of Oregon, Eugene
Kirkus Reviews
The 13th work of fiction from Gilchrist (The Courts of Love, 1996, etc.), who here tries to give the standard midlife crisis story some fresh vigor by dropping a suddenly eligible old flame into the cast of characters.

Sarah Conley is nothing if not driven. The only offspring of a poor Kentucky family, she managed to support her mother and herself after her father's death while she was still a child—and went on to turn an afterschool job as copygirl at a small-town newspaper into a journalistic career that eventually takes her all the way to Manhattan, where she ends up as an editor of Time. Glamorous, accomplished, and quite self-satisfied, Sarah juggles her career and social life without much effort, and has pretty much gotten over the absence of her son, whose custody she lost in the course of her recent divorce. Then, however, an unexpected summons from Eugenie, an ailing childhood friend, catches her off-guard, and she returns to Kentucky to discover that Eugenie is not merely sick but dying. Eugenie is married to Jack, whom Sarah always loved and who himself fell in love with Sarah after he'd become engaged to Eugenie. And now Sarah and Jack, after an absence of years, feel once more the same passion. Jack pursues Sarah this time around, following her all the way to Paris (where she goes after her final visit with Eugenie) to plead his case. Will love triumph in the end? Can passion be put on hold? And is it really possible to go home again, after all? The most familiar and best-loved potboiler quandaries take on new life under Gilchrist's direction, lending a good deal of shading (if not depth) to a fairly unoriginal plot.

In the end, well-turned-out but unremarkable. Gilchrist keeps you in the palm of her hand when she tells a story, even if it's one that won't be remembered half an hour after it's over.

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Product Details

Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.75(d)

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