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Spin Doctor

Spin Doctor

4.5 2
by Leslie Carroll

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What do Amy, the new mom;
Meriel, the West-Indian housekeeper;
Claude and Naomi, the alternative couple;
Faith, the elegant widow;
and Talia, the super-skinny ballerina have in common?


Except that they all live lives of not-so-quiet desperation on the


What do Amy, the new mom;
Meriel, the West-Indian housekeeper;
Claude and Naomi, the alternative couple;
Faith, the elegant widow;
and Talia, the super-skinny ballerina have in common?


Except that they all live lives of not-so-quiet desperation on the Upper West Side of New York City. What gets them through? Their unusual therapy sessions with supershrink Susan Lederer, held in the depths of the laundry room. Susan knows that all of life's problems eventually come out in the wash, but while the washers keep breaking down, she helps her female friends take control.

But Susan's life has become an agitated mess. Her teenage daughter seems destined for a fast-food future; her son's adolescence hasn't quite hit yet . . . and her perfect husband is hiding something. Susan could use a really good shrink.

Instead, her dirty linen exposed, she finds that it's her friends who rally 'round her, and by the final spin, she realizes that while it might not take a whole village, it does sometimes take a laundry room to get rid of the nastier wrinkles in life.

Now if only she could find the formula for getting rid of that ring around the collar.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dirty laundry gets cleaned, dried and aired in the newest women-in-the-city soap opera from Carroll (Play Dates), an exuberant ode to friendship among women and the need for affordable mental health care (at least in New York City). When a Manhattan psychotherapist decides to offer pro bono counseling in her apartment building's laundry room, her lucky neighbors jump at the chance to wash away "the emotionally damaging detritus of their lives" while they wash away stains from their whites. Dr. Susan Lederer thinks of herself as the ultimate mother hen, dividing her time among her detergent-scented community work, her paying gig at the women's health center and her more literal motherly duties: taking care of a husband, Eli, their two children (aged 11 and 16) and an incontinent dog. That Susan's laundry room patients eventually join together to help Susan through her own domestic crisis is no surprise, but Carroll handles her material with wit and wisdom. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Psychiatrist Susan Lederer questions her ability to help her probono clients-she holds sessions with her neighbors in their building's laundry room-when she realizes how precarious her own situation is. She's feeling abandoned by her oft-absent husband and challenged by her teen daughter's apathy. But the supportive therapy environment she provides recently widowed Faith; Talia, a ballerina in the twilight of her career; Amy, an overwhelmed new mother; Alice, reeling from her own losses; Meriel, negotiating being the housekeeper in Amy's dysfunctional household; and Naomi and Claude, a lesbian couple whose efforts to adopt introduce unexpected issues, turns out to be an unconventional two-way street when Susan finds herself facing a stunning personal setback. Carroll (Play Dates) writes her engaging latest novel with wit and warmth. The issues she raises and examines lend the story emotional weight and substance and, several unpredictable twists guarantee a satisfying conclusion. Carroll's diverse characters will appeal to readers beyond the chick-lit crowd. Highly recommended for all public libraries. [Carroll also writes under the pen name of Amanda Elyot, whose latest effort is By a Lady, reviewed below.-Ed.]-Amy Brozio-Andrews, Albany P.L., NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

Spin Doctor

By Leslie Carroll

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Leslie Carroll
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060596139

Chapter One

Me, Susan

My husband Eli didn't get home until two A.M. He never bothered to call, and only muttered something -- just before he crawled into bed without showering -- about a deadline. He writes graphic novels: comic books for adults. I suppose his deadline was more important than our nineteenth wedding anniversary. And if it did finally dawn on him, No biggie, I'm sure he figured, after all, it's not like it's thetwentieth. I stopped sticking "countdown to our anni" post-notes on the bathroom mirror years ago, because Eli said they were an insult to our love. He didn't need the tacky reminders, he insisted. How could he forget the annual celebration of the happiest day of his life? And until last night, I have to admit that was true . . . although I have a sneaking suspicion that the placement of the post-notes earlier in our marriage acted as a positive reinforcement.

Yuck! The dog must have peed on our new sisal. God damnit! I stepped in the acrid puddle on the way to brush my teeth because I was bleary-eyed, having had only four hours of sleep, since I was worried sick about Eli until I heard his key in the door. I think he's become incontinent. The dog, not Eli. Eli's just somewhat immature. That might explain why he's still into comic books. Can a man be in his second childhood at age forty-five? I should know the answer to this: I'm a psychotherapist. I guess it's time to brush up on arrested development.

Our sixteen-year-old daughter Molly came home yesterday with a piercing in what I hope she still considers an obscure location. I regard myself as a fairly liberal mom, but I can only hope that the technician, or whatever they call them, was a woman. Is there such a thing as statutory piercing? Ian, our son, is my only hope for normalcy in this family, although I'm not sure that an eleven-year-old boy who already has a thriving career in musical theatre falls into what the red states would define as "normal." So, thank God, we live in New York City, where his jaded classmates are more jealous than weirded out when he gets to leave school early on Wednesdays to sing and dance on Broadway.

Our apartment is an unholy mess because everyone, including the dog, thinks it's someone else's job to pick up after them and I've always refused to become their full-time cleaning lady. The dog's the only one who's actually got a valid argument. My entire day is devoted to helping other people sort out their messy lives; when I get home, spent and exhausted from internalizing and absorbing the neuroses of a dozen different clients, the last thing I want to do is housekeeping! Gee, it sure would be swell to be able to kick back, have someone else fix dinner, and watch a couple of hours of mindless crap on TV while my children happily do their homework on their own. Is a bit of nurturing for the professional nurturer too much to ask? Complete disavowal of responsibility for a few hours every evening? Bliss! But I am definitely in denial for even entertaining the remotest possibility that this fantasy will ever come true.

It's now six A.M. In an hour it will be time to descend to our building's laundry room to begin the pro bono segment of my workday, helping my clients face, and hopefully resolve, their emotional crises. Believe me, I appreciate the irony.


"I slept on Ben's side of the bed last night!"

"Whoa, sister!" This was quite a revelation coming from my seven A.M. appointment, the usually reticent Faith Nesbit. She's been one of my laundry room clients for a few years now, and it's been an arduous uphill climb to get her to finally become comfortable discussing her most deeply personal and intimate details. There were times when I felt like I'd earned my Ph.D. all over again. And after all that, Faith still shies away from bringing up anything that bears even the slightest whiff of S-E-X.

"At the risk of invoking the biggest cliché in shrinkdom, how did that make you feel?" Clichés aside, it was the question I needed to ask, as Faith exhibits a classic, virtually stereotypical WASP tendency to talk around her emotions, rather than about them.

Faith was perched on the edge of the couch as though she might take flight at any moment and soar clear through the gap in the ventilation screen behind the washers, while I cleaned out the lint traps, dumping their individual contents into a ratty white plastic bag. "I'm listening to you, Faith," I assured her. "I just want to get this done before everybody starts coming down here." Even during these early morning sessions -- which a California colleague of mine refers to as "kinda therapy," meaning the variation commonly offered to acquaintances, friends, and relatives, as opposed to the more conventional variety conducted with those who are official patients -- I find myself cleaning up other people's messes in more ways than one.

"You really don't need to go to all that fuss and bother with the lint traps, Susan," Faith chided, her patrician cadences still reminiscent of her Back Bay upbringing, even though she's lived in New York City for decades. "It's Stevo's responsibility." Stevo Badescu is our building's superintendent, and is notorious for slacking off whenever possible. "Whenever you need the man, he's positively nowhere to be found. It must be the Gypsy in him," she continued, as tart as a freshly harvested cranberry.

"I've been living in this building for forty-nine years, you realize, almost a decade before you were born! Ben and I moved in right after we were married in September of 1957 -- it was our first and only apartment -- and I would swear on my mother's Bible that the supers have gotten steadily lazier over the years." Faith studied her . . .


Excerpted from Spin Doctor by Leslie Carroll Copyright © 2006 by Leslie Carroll. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Native New Yorker Leslie Carroll is also a professional actress, dramatist, and journalist. Her first two books, contemporary romantic comedies set in her hometown, won a series of rave reviews. She also writes historical and New York "tart noir" detective fiction. Leslie has worked more temp jobs than she cares to remember in the fields of politics, advertising, public relations, and — far too frequently — law. But it's all ripe for social satire and fodder for fiction!

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Spin Doctor 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Leslie Carroll has done it again! She¿s written a witty and delightful tale of what happens when a group of disparate apartment dwelling ladies in New York City air their dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively, as they do their weekly wash. They use the time wisely to spill their emotions to psychologist Susan Lederer, who soon realizes that she, too, has benefited from the creation of this offbeat venue in which to see clients. The characters are an amalgam of Upper West Side women of varying ages, backgrounds and interests, brought together by a need to talk to someone who understands. Its one of those wonderful ¿only in New York¿ stories...and it works. It¿s a quick read...one that¿s good for the subway as well as the beach...or even by the fireplace. Buy it! You¿ll like it!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Amy the new mother, Meriel the bored West-Indian housekeeper, Naomi part of a different lifestyle couple with Claude (though they each clean the dirty linen), Faith the new widow, Talia the injured ballerina, and Susan the therapist all live in the same Manhattan apartment house. At the laundry room Susan listens to their individual woes and offers sage advice to help each one cope with their personal crisis. --- However, no one is there for Susan. She believes her once picture perfect family is near collapse. Her spouse spends way too much time in the office as if he needs to avoid her or has something better there to occupy his time her daughter is a rebel with a fast food cause finally her son is on the verge of puberty, but each step forward leads to two steps back as she thinks he will be eligible for Medicare by the time his body changes. Susan needs a psychiatrist, but what she has is friends willing to listen to her woes and advise her now how to clean the dirty laundry. --- SPIN DOCTOR contains an intriguing premise as the audience sees the woes of the apartment six and a half (Naomi and Claude get one and a half) mostly through the eyes of Susan, the professional member of the rinse cycle club. The story line shifts focus from one of the sextet to another though Susan remains the glue that holds the plot together. Leslie Carroll deftly insure her ensemble has differing personalities and tsuras, but there are too many to keep score of and that shrinks the shrink¿s effectiveness. Still this is a fine Manhattan character driven drama that uses laundry vernacular to clean away one¿s troubles. --- Harriet Klausner