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Stone Creek: A Novel

Stone Creek: A Novel

4.3 12
by Victoria Lustbader

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In the small town of Stone Creek, a random encounter offers two lonely people a chance at happiness.

Danny, a young widower, still grieves for his late wife, but for the sake of his five-year-old son, Caleb, he knows he must move on. Alone in her summer house, Lily has left her workaholic husband, Paul, to his long hours and late nights back in the city. In


In the small town of Stone Creek, a random encounter offers two lonely people a chance at happiness.

Danny, a young widower, still grieves for his late wife, but for the sake of his five-year-old son, Caleb, he knows he must move on. Alone in her summer house, Lily has left her workaholic husband, Paul, to his long hours and late nights back in the city. In Stone Creek, she can yearn in solitude for the treasure she's been denied: a child.

What occurs when Lily and Danny meet is immediate and undeniable—despite Lily being ten years older and married. But ultimately it is little Caleb's sadness and need that will tip the scales, upsetting a precarious balance between joy and despair, between what cannot happen . . . and what must.

An unforgettable novel of tremendous emotional heft, Stone Creek brilliantly illuminates how the powers of love and loss transform the human heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Childless, married Lily Spencer, 46, falls for 30-something widower Danny Malloy and his five-year-old son in this would-be Whartonesque marriage tale from former book editor Lustbader (Hidden ). Lily's troubled marriage has led her to retreat to the small Catskill town of Stone Creek while husband Paul, 54, a successful Manhattan attorney, remains submerged in work. Paul and Lily have given up hope of having a child: Paul with brisk efficiency, Lily still mournful and yearning. When she and gifted, still-grieving furniture restorer Danny espy each other in the Stone Creek supermarket, sparks fly. As they come together, Lily finds in Danny the companionship Paul doesn't provide, and in Danny's son, Caleb, she finds a boy who needs a mother. As much as Lustbader tries to give Danny equal time, his struggles with a secretive, unforgiving mother-in-law never attain the resonance of Lily's search among an ex-husband, a current husband, a lover and a boy for someone with whom she can share her love and pain. Piercingly personal descriptions of love, loss and desperate attempts to plug life's gaps give Lustbader's second novel its emotional edge, while there's plenty of steam for romance readers. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Lustbader's second novel (after Hidden) is a story of troubled lives and misunderstandings in which everyone is looking for love. Danny Malloy, father to five-year-old Caleb, misses his dead wife. Paul and Lily Spencer are a wealthy couple whose marriage suddenly hits a snag when they find they're unable to have children. Lily escapes to the couple's country home for the summer, needing someone to love-and finds herself on a collision course with Danny and Caleb. Lustbader, whose husband is thriller writer Eric Van Lustbader, shows promise with this effort, and her characters are certainly interesting. However, Lustbader tries too hard to present everyone's point of view; the narrative's third-person present tense only distances readers from the story. Additionally, there is not enough action to move the narrative along, and the combination of tension and introspection makes the writing feel cold at times. An optional purchase for large public libraries only. [Eric Van Lustbader's new thriller, First Daughter, publishes in August.-Ed.]
—Lesa Holstine

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Stone Creek
A Novel

Chapter One

In a house in the woods on the outskirts of a small town seventy miles northwest of New York City, Danny Malloy wakes with the dawn. There was a time when he woke gently, rising through the layers of his own soft darkness until his consciousness emerged, whole and round and perched on the radiant horizon of his day. Now he wakes rudely, abruptly, in a recurring state of shock, tangled in his bedcovers. There was a time when he slept without moving, her hand always somewhere on him, stilling any urge to restlessness or disquiet. Now disquiet takes possession of him in those dark hours. There is too much space in his bed and he thrashes in his sleep, blindly seeking what is missing.

It is the end of June and dawn comes early. In the deep shade along the north wall of the house, purple lilacs still bloom. Their sweet perfume floats in the air. The birds are busy, singing and darting to and fro. Bluebirds, orioles, cardinals, finches, jays, nuthatches, thrushes, wrens, catbirds, mockingbirds, hummingbirds. They take turns making hungry strikes at the feeders Danny has spaced throughout the clearing between the back of the house and the woods. Bumblebees drone through the flowerbeds, nuzzling into the kaleidoscope of color, coating their little legs and proboscises with sticky pollen. From beyond the edge of the woods comes the sound of the creek. Its clear water rushes over hindering formations of stone and shale. In most years the creek is shallow and serene along the stretch that flows behind Danny's house, but this year it is swollen almost beyond its wide and curving banks from the melt of a winter now famous forits endless snow storms and an early spring full of rain.

Danny frees his limbs and pushes the sheets off him. His eyes linger on the willowy shadows above his head as pale gold light crawls over his face. He turns his head and looks across the empty expanse of bed until his eyes come to rest on her night table. They flutter shut and he turns his head in the other direction. But that is no better, maybe worse, because when he opens them again he is looking into the bathroom doorway. He sits up, puts his feet on the warm wood floor, his hands by his sides on the mattress. The night table is at his back now. A simple cherrywood table with a single drawer. Soon he will have to open that drawer and deal with what's in it; his long reprieve is nearly over. He made a promise and he will keep it, as he keeps all his promises.

He found the book, nearly a year ago, in a box secreted at the back of her closet. It was a lidded box of burled maple wood that he'd made for her twenty-third birthday. There was only the one thing in it: a medium-sized book with sheets of thick, handmade paper. His name stenciled on the embossed ruby-colored leather cover in bold strokes of indelible silver ink. Her cherished Dupont pen secure in a leather loop at its edge. He had never seen it before. He knew he shouldn't open it, shouldn't look at what was written on the vellum pages. It was far too soon and his pain was too great. He knew there was a chance that whatever was left unshattered inside him would not be enough to hold him together. But at that time he didn't want to be held together. He wanted to dissolve, to vanish into the black cave of his pain. And so he opened it, and he read.

I was ten years old the first time I saw Danny Malloy. He was eighteen. It was toward the end of that year when I was friends with Linda Tompkins. She and I met at Miss Ruth's Dance Academy in Middletown in the fall, two star-struck, dreaming ballerinas, twirling and leaping better than anyone else in our class. Linda and I saw each other three times a week and were inseparable during the ten-minute interludes before and after class, while we dressed and undressed in the moldy locker room. After that day I knew that Linda had come into my life to lead me to Danny.

It was a Wednesday in the middle of June. Class was over and Linda and I were on the sidewalk, waiting to be picked up and taken home. We stood in the sun in our pink tights and black leotards, little black ballet skirts wrapped around our waists, overstuffed dance bags at our feet. We felt so grown-up and important. When Linda's sister Carol arrived, two people got out of her car. Carol and a boy. I knew he must be the boy Carol was dating. Linda had told me about him, rolled her eyes and sniffed when she said that Carol was crazy about him, that she was doing it with him, that she wrote Carol Malloy over and over in decorative columns down the margins of the pages of her school notebooks. We giggled about it; ten years old, we were so clueless. Neither of us knew what it meant to be crazy about a boy.

He was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the shortened cuffs turned back high on his upper arms. He might have been chiseled from a block of marble, that's how hard and strong he looked. The spring sun had already darkened his fair skin to a light nutty brown and streaked his sandy hair with golden lights. Carol said, And this is Linda's friend, Tara. She's a terrific little dancer. Danny turned to smile at me and that's when I saw his blue eyes. I couldn't breathe. In the space of one heartbeat I fell in love. I wasn't a little girl anymore, even though I still looked like one, staring up at him mute and trembling. His smile broadened and a dimple appeared in his right cheek. He chucked me lightly under the chin, said, Hi Tara. I'll have to come to one of your recitals sometime. He kept smiling down at me until he'd pulled a little upward twitch from my frozen lips, a blink from my wide-open lids.

Stone Creek
A Novel
. Copyright © by Victoria Lustbader. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

A former book editor, Victoria Lustbader became an author herself with her first novel, Hidden. She divides her time between Southampton, New York, and New York City.

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Stone Creek 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing- I thoroughly enjoyed this book. After reading one of the other reviews I have to say that I strongly disagree about the female character being tiresome. Some people are just "normal" and more emotional than others. Characters don't have to be these complex pieces- they only have to be roles in a story that touch your heart. This book, for me, did just that. Couldn't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished the book. It was unbelieveable. I loved it. I could not put it down once I started to get into it. Like someone else wrote. The characters stay with you well after you finsh the book. It was great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters in this story touch not only your heart but your soul! As with Hidden, Lustbader's first book, the characters continue to live with you after you have finished the book. This is one to share with friends who love good books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The author is great. The book has a believable story line not your typical happily ever after. Realistic. I'll be looking for the next one she writes.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Although she still believes that Paul is the one for her, Lily starts to doubt whether she still loves her husband. Lately she has found nothing brings her joy especially her lack of connection on any level with workaholic Paul.-------------- Needing time to find her equilibrium and decide what to do about her marriage, Lily leaves Paul and Manhattan to spend the summer at Stone Creek in Upstate New York while her spouse takes no time off from work. There she meets widower Danny and his sad five year old son Caleb. Although a decade older than Danny, they are attracted to one another, but it is Caleb who enters Lily¿s heart. Meanwhile Paul has an epiphany that Lily is unhappy, but he is assigned a critical case so he must choose.----------- In many ways the support cast Paul as a workaholic and Caleb as a grieving little boy steal the show from the lead pair Lily and Danny. However, overall they enhance an insightful character study that looks deep into child grief, spousal estrangement, and maternal biological clocks. Ultimately simple yet convoluted relationships as Lily¿s need for contentment changes four lives. Although some of the issues are repetitively overdone, fans of contemporary tales will appreciate Lily¿s search for happiness in STONE CREEK.-------- Harriet Klausner
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Maertel More than 1 year ago
Although I read this book to the end, I couldn't bear to read every word because the main female character was so annoyingly tiresome and repetitive: she cried about EVERYTHING, good or bad, but mostly to get her way. What a sterling role model - in wild contrast to the two strong minded, creative, and talented men in her life. It is difficult to comprehend what they find so attractive as she exploits her own weaknesses, over and over. Her two men, Daniel and Paul, mostly stay true to character, with two singular exceptions. Daniel, as the sole support of his young son whose mother has just died, decides to go rock climbing. Hello? And, Paul wimps out at the end, giving into every 'unmanly' request. Geez, how hot can this tearful at the drop of every hat babe be? Where are some real women to give her and the guys a reality check? When will she ever just grow up?!?
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