4.4 9
by Tonya Plank

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GOLD MEDAL WINNER, Best Regional Fiction, Northeast Region, 2010 IPPY Awards
GOLD MEDAL WINNER, Women's Fiction, 2010 Living Now Book Awards,
FINALIST, General Fiction, 2009 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards,
FINALIST, Best Regional Fiction, 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards

Sophie Hegel is a shy New York lawyer from small-town


GOLD MEDAL WINNER, Best Regional Fiction, Northeast Region, 2010 IPPY Awards
GOLD MEDAL WINNER, Women's Fiction, 2010 Living Now Book Awards,
FINALIST, General Fiction, 2009 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards,
FINALIST, Best Regional Fiction, 2010 National Indie Excellence Awards

Sophie Hegel is a shy New York lawyer from small-town Florence Arizona, known not for the Renaissance but for housing a large prison. She's just graduated from Yale Law School and landed her first job when, one evening she feels a fist-like ball form at the base of her throat. Diagnosed with the psychological condition Globus Hystericus, this "fist-ball" wreaks havoc on her life, causing difficulty eating, speaking, and eventually breathing. With a cast of characters that includes a pornographer father, a sister with a knack for getting knocked up by denizens of the town pen, a tough-talking fashion maven, a painter of male nudes, an eccentric Sing Sing-residing client and a bevy of privileged Manhattan attorneys and judges, Swallow is a dark comedy about the distance that can separate fathers and daughters, and about a young woman's struggle to survive in a world of pedigreed professionals for which she has no preparation.

Editorial Reviews

James Wolcott
Swallow ... hooks you from the opening pages with its breathless urgency and captures what it's like to live in NY now, with money worries and ambition and myriad obligations breathing down your neck, and none of it written in cutesy chick-lit'ry. So give it a try.
Andi Diehn
Plank has a knack for combining philosophical opinions, hard-luck family stories, discount shopping triumphs, and gently slapstick humor into a book that makes readers laugh, think, and swallow hard in sympathy.
Ava Rogers
This is not just regional, women's fiction - it transcends any genre... Ms. Plank's first novel is a brilliant show of even greater things to come. She is an author to watch and follow.
Maureen Linehan
As engaging as any book I have read. Although it does seem to be a little long at first, the character development is so appealing that once you start reading you find yourself eagerly anticipating what will come next...
Joanne Wilson
I swallowed it up, no pun intended... The novel is very chatty and engaging... A great beach read.

Product Details

Dark Swan Press
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Meet the Author

Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, Tonya Plank worked for many years as an appellate criminal defense attorney in New York. Also a competitive ballroom dancer, she writes the dance blog, Swan Lake Samba Girl, which has been lauded by James Wolcott of Vanity Fair and Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal and has been cited in those publications as well as the New York Times Arts Beat blog, the Washington Post, and CNN.com.

Her first novel, Swallow, won a gold medal for best regional fiction in the 2010 Independent Publisher Book Awards, the gold medal for women's fiction in the 2010 Living Now Book Awards, and was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Her law review articles have been cited in numerous books and publications.

She lives in New York, where she is working on her second novel, a legal / urban drama.

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Swallow 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
grantglass More than 1 year ago
The book surrounds a terrific character study of Sophie Hegel who attends Yale Law School, which many would be proud of and brag, however she does not. She meets her boyfriend while in law school, and he hopes to help her cope with this lack of confidence about her. The novel takes place during the booming early 2001 with the Twin Towers still part of the classic New York Skyline. The book's title comes from a lump in Hegel's throat. Ironically the same night her boyfriend asks her to marry him is the same night she is stricken with the horror that she can barely breath. After this night, we find out that Hegel suffers from a psychosomatic illness Globus Sensate; a condition that makes it difficult to represent her already unconfident self in a sea of trouble. I really felt connected to the character's feeling of being an outsider, not being able to control one says or does to appease anyone else. I have never lived in New York City, but I can get the feeling from this novel of what it might feel like. The writing style fits the outsider in a bustling New York well, and I was able to move through the prose with ease. The book read fast until I started to disconnect myself with the main character, I just wanted her to take control, but she did not. However, I believed this matched the condition that the main character was suffering from, I wanted her to do more but somehow, beyond my understanding, she did not. Ironically, the character became tough to swallow .I thought that was the most brilliant point of this novel, that the structure of the novel was creating a feeling in me as the reader that helped to bring me closer to the main character. The book starts to explore a new area of the American experience, one that began at the highpoint of our economic bliss and ended in the rubble of post 9/11 America. I think that this book can be seen as a brilliant take of what happened to New York on a mental level post 9/11.
Humbee More than 1 year ago
Tanya Plank is a fantastic writer of the young, priviledged, slightly disturbed and disoriented New York professionals. She's the voice of the over-educated, preppie, ivy-leagued-to-the-max, "now what do I do to one-up everyone" generation. She "gets it" and she's telling!! LOL I thought her author's voice--her book was hilarious and riveting! It helps to know these Harvard-types she writes about, but I think anyone can understand a pompous person when they see or hear one...or read about them. Her characterizations are golden. Sophie, the swallower in question, is a loveable and genuine young woman for whom I immediately took a liking. I was on her side right away and kept by her like a glove to her hand throughout her struggles and humorous/humiliating revelations. Tanya is right on in her dialog and descriptions; particularly in her scene at the fancy art show with Sophie's fiance's Harvard friend, Alana. Oooo, as slick and slimy as they come in a tightly wrapped ivy package. As well as with Sophie's own would-be friend, Samia, who keeps referencing herself and Sophie as "when you're young," as if to say she is now so mature and beyond it all--and that living and working in New York for even a short time has jaded and matured them like hot house roses....which it may, in fact, have done. At the very least it's caused Sophie to choke, hasn't it? It's caused Sophie to revisit a childhood dysfunction...a fist-sized ball (FB) that blocks her esophagus and causes her to choke, actually not being able to swallow anything but tiny bits of food, drink or even her own saliva. Sophie is struck again by her swallowing FB shortly after her boyfriend proposes, and prior to a big Public Defender's Office advocacy case that she must orally present before a presumably hostile, multiple Justice panel. Sophie is diagnosed with a psychological problem called Globus Sensate, but not before it has run amock within the strictly held confines of her fragile life. Sophie's secrets of the pornographer father, the wacky sister who pops in to humiliate and horrify...and the fiance' who can't believe his eyes, ears and understanding about the FB!!!...all make for a fun ride!! I loved Tanya Plank's book. I loved NYC through the eyes of the Arizona girl and the Yalie mix. I loved the story through the words of a choking, swallowing dysfunctional lawyer!!! LOL What could be better than the image of a poor lawyer who can bearly talk for choking on her words! (with apologies to my sons) This is a wild and fun romp full of satire, symbolism and insight into the lives of the educationally priviledged and spoiled vrs the "real" people. It's a look into the workings of the public defender's life and the big city lawyer's mindset. It's a glance at the young bucks and brave girls who come to Town with all the credentials and hautier but missing some of the heart and raw bones of real life. And, a look at the other young "brave ones" who come hoping to make a difference against some mighty odds that aren't in their favor. This is a book that's easy to swallow. Though, I have to admit, I suffered with Sophie when she was having problems swallowing. I felt myself closing up. I found myself putting my hand to my throat and getting a smothering feeling and practicing swallowing, myself. That's how good Tanya Plank is at writing! You have to get this book. Ms Plank is going to be heard from again
lizasarusrex More than 1 year ago
What is the book about? Sophie Hegel suffers from something called Globus Sensate, or as Sophie calls it"fistball" or "fb." Globus Sensate is when a person may think something is stuck in their throat resulting in being unable to swallow, and in some extreme cases, unable to breathe. Sophie is an intern acting for criminal appeals and is somewhat respected in the community especially since her fiance Stephen is a hot shot lawyer with a great apartment and a very large income. As she discusses her "fist-ball" with her psychiatrist she learns that it is not a physical problem but a self problem rooting from her relationships, specifically with her family. What did I think of the book? I thought this book would be more about overcoming a hard obstacle like Globus Sensate but instead it read more like a chick-lit book that went into the depths of her life and her background. This book isn't so much about her disorder but about how she dealt with it. Every chapter seemed to take me by surprise on how Sophie's life seemed to turn out. She is an extreme individual that I found to be quite likable and enjoyed following her throughout the book.
BigAl70 More than 1 year ago
I've put "Swallow" in the, "it's not you, it's me" file. I think that says more about me, or at least the kind of book I enjoy most, than it says about "Swallow." Plank's writing style (her "writer's voice" as people like saying) works well. The major characters were well defined and, in the case of Sophie, I liked her immediately. The premise of the story and plot is good. On a purely objective level - at least as close as I can get - this book has it all. However, at a certain point I wanted to stop reading. What I found is Sophie was starting to irritate me. It seemed as though she was spending more time trying to hide her problem than finding out what was causing it and how to get it fixed. In fairness, she did try somewhat, but with no success. Eventually Sophie reaches the same place I hadd, and reacted the way I was hoping she would, it just took her a lot longer to get there. As I've been thinking about it I realized I once did the same thing as Sophie, in my case putting off getting additional medical attention when the initial treatments weren't working. Maybe the problem was I saw something of myself in Sophie, and didn't like what I was seeing. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog.**
lenice williams More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this novel cover to cover! Ms. Plank is a talanted writer and I hope to read more from her soon! i hope a sequal to Swallow is in the works, I must know what happens to Sophie next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vagabond360 More than 1 year ago
Sophie - You go girl. Tonya Plank is a talented writer. Wish she had another.
bluesky_1775 More than 1 year ago
Book Title: Swallow Author: Tonya Plank Publisher: Dark Swan Press ISBN: 9780615280998 Reviewed by Michele Tater for Review The Book "Gradually, I come to realize that people will readily swallow lies than truth, as if the taste of lies was homey, appetizing: a habit." -Martha Gellhorn The above mentioned quote could describe the reason for the affection that plagues Sophie Hegel, the main character in the book "Swallow", by Tonya Plank. Sophie is a small town girl who went to an ivy league law school, meets prince charming and moves to New York City. Everything in her life appears to be going smoothly, in her opinion, until her boyfriend Stephen pops the question of will you marry me. Since she is hiding her "Arizona" family from her "New York City" family, all will clash together with the upcoming wedding which causes her to panic. Everything in Sophia's life becomes too hard to accept or believe without question, protest or anger, which she tend to stifle and not come to grips with. I think as we all get older, we start to inquire about our lives. We analyze our past and how it has impacted the decisions we have made. Sophie's past including her upbringing and her dysfunctional family: divorced parents, jealous sister, reared its ugly head, or should I say fist, and made it hard to ignore anymore. She tries to deny the existence of or the truth of who she really is. With the love and support of her friends; gay arty friend Thom, fashion suave friend Frances, lawyer friend Sami, Sophie realizes that in life some shallow people will cross your path and that they will try to manipulate how you look at yourself. We all should not allow people to lead us astray and corrupt us into seeing ourselves in a bad light. With the all changing event of September 11th, Sophie is pushed to make decisions to save her from the fantasy life she thought she had. She begins to see things for what they are and what her goals really are. I think most of America took the time after 9/11 to revalue their lives as well. All the characters are beautifully woven and integrated in the story which gives the reader the opportunity to relate to them. Each character has an impact, either good, bad or both, on how the main character is shaped or is being molded. I recommend this book to adult women young and old who would like a good laugh, a good cry and a bunch of good feelings.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
An intelligent, accomplished appeals attorney thinks, feels and acts as if she were a positive nervous wreck. Sophie Hegel has had an astonishing education and now has a boyfriend others would die for! But Sophie is so stressed out that she's got an overwhelming psychological problem manifesting as feeling like she has a huge lump in her throat that causes an inability to swallow. It's not physical and so Tonya knows she needs help but the help she needs isn't really what she gets. For Sophie's story is quite unique from most "immature girl grows up into a self-confident woman" tales. We get to experience Sophie in all of her flaws, faux pas, successful moments and all of those more often experienced in-between moments. The road to recovery isn't an easy one and at one point it seems that Sophie's job is in jeopardy as she begins to lose it and blurt out truthful albeit inappropriately timed comments in and out of court. While she is trying to overcome her swallowing problem, she's dropping massive amounts of weight and her boyfriend, also a brilliant yuppie lawyer, is growing unhappy with Sophie's behavior. Readers will cheer when she finally deals directly with the perfect Stephen. Psychology associates disorders with some sort of major trauma from childhood, but how does one handle it when everyone remembers the "event" in different ways? Sophie initially is brutal in dealing with her father and sister but slowly comes to see things from their points of view and the dawn of a new relationship with them seems to be in the brighter future. The reader feels Sophie's pain and turmoil as Tonya Plank has managed to deftly present her character with no cover-ups but with an honest, engaging, tense presentation that opens a new window into the life of families, friends, and the law profession. Interesting approach and nicely done, Ms. Plank! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on June 27, 2010
AllPurposeMonkey More than 1 year ago
Like so many times since arriving on the East Coast, I realized that, for all the oohs and aahs I received back home for my accomplishments, they amounted to absolutely nada here. - Sophie Hegel It's hard to believe that someone who graduated from Yale Law School and landed a prestigious fellowship with the New York City Public Defender's Office could think her accomplishments amount to "nada," but when we meet Sophie Hegel at the beginning of author Tonya Plank's debut novel, Swallow, Sophie is experiencing serious self-confidence issues. Originally from a small town in Arizona, she's not found it easy transitioning to the fast paced world of NYC. It doesn't help that her boyfriend, an attorney at a prestigious law firm, works insane hours and the only socializing they do seems to bring her into contact with a crowd of upscale attorneys from generations deep ivy league pedigrees. which only makes her feel more insecure. Things seem to be looking up when her boyfriend proposes to her at dinner one evening, except that she suddenly gets the sensation that she has a lump in her throat and finds it nearly impossible to swallow. Not only does the sensation not go away, it gets progressively worse and her inability to eat anything substantial causes her to lose such an alarming amount of weight that her friends and family think she has an eating disorder. Though she doesn't, she does realize that she needs help, and thus begins her search for the cause of her condition. Despite that rather dire sounding set-up, Swallow is actually a very engaging, darkly humorous read. Sophie's attempts to find the answer to her problem in the medical world, first with a physician then a psychologist, are fertile ground for misadventure. She's also surrounded by an extremely colorful cast of supporting characters: the fashion maven who takes Sophie under her wing; her gay, law school dropout turned artist friend; her father, a semi-successful maker of pornographic films; a surprisingly insightful client, currently incarcerated at Sing Sing; even the enigmatic doorman of the building Sophie lives in makes for a memorable presence in his few scenes. The supporting cast, however, is not merely there as pretty window dressing. Each serves as a unique piece of the puzzle that is Sophie's life. Her challenge is in learning to understand how her interactions with each are either helping or hurting her growth as a person and potentially contributing to her condition, which is eventually diagnosed as a psychosomatic illness caused by stress. Plank has created a wonderfully three-dimensional and quite believable character in Sophie, and Swallow presents an almost painfully realistic portrait of a young woman's journey from emotional repression and self-doubt to emotional freedom and self-assurance.