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4.4 19
by Katherine Mosby

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Award-winning novelist Katherine Mosby examines the complex landscape of adultery while depicting a woman's unlikely blossoming in the face of war. Lavinia Gibbs defies social convention and family expectations in New York in the 1930s when she breaks off a passionless engagement to a prominent banker. Instead of surrendering to an invisible spinsterhood, Lavinia


Award-winning novelist Katherine Mosby examines the complex landscape of adultery while depicting a woman's unlikely blossoming in the face of war. Lavinia Gibbs defies social convention and family expectations in New York in the 1930s when she breaks off a passionless engagement to a prominent banker. Instead of surrendering to an invisible spinsterhood, Lavinia moves to Paris, where, on the verge of World War II, her sexual and political awakening collide in an unforgettable tale.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
“Intensely romantic. . . . Beautiful, full of rich, carefully chosen metaphors.”
People (Three stars)
“Lyrical . . . moody, atmospheric . . . rich with a sense of longing . . . dark, seductive and worth visiting.”
Seattle Times
“A deceptively simple and tender novel...the story of a young American woman who (risks) everything for illicit love.”
The Economist
“Impeccably rendered...Elegant, perceptive prose...Eloquence is paired with incisive content.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Readers who appreciate poetic language and psychologically complex portraits…will savor this.”
Boston Globe
“Mosby has a true storyteller’s voice.”
“Captivating...Lovely language and lively characters.”
“Mosby writes with fluid grace…her images are magical.”
The New Yorker
“Tremendously ambitious...and impressive.”
(Three stars) - People Magazine
"Mosby writes with fluid grace…her images are magical."
Publishers Weekly
(The Season of Lillian Dawes; Private Altars) has built a low-key literary career based on female characters who flout convention, and this potentially engrossing novel set in France on the brink of World War II cleaves to type. When the well-born American Lavinia Gibbs, in her late 30s, shocks her family by breaking off her engagement to a suitable if dour man in her own social set, a quick getaway feels necessary, and a transatlantic journey is soon in the offing. Armed with the delicious dual freedoms of solitude and her father's money, Lavinia is in search of adventure in the City of Lights. Despite Lavinia's optimal circumstances she's a single, sexually adventurous woman with money in Paris the author never quite manages to conjure up much joie de vivre. Though Mosby has a flair for descriptive passages (He made even her name look beautiful, slanting in black strokes across the blue stationery, like startled birds filling a patch of sky), her third novel is diminished by stilted dialogue and slow pacing; readers don't meet Lavinia's main romantic interest until well into the novel's second half. And while Lavinia's romance with the married Frenchman, Gaston Lesseur, is not without its tepid charms, few readers will be swept away by the couple's uninspiring affair. Agent, Kathy Robbins at Authors' Representatives. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Lavinia Gibbs flees her life of privilege in 1930s New York and heads to Paris. Born at the turn of the century, she has disgraced her family by spurning her boring fianc . Lavinia settles into a quiet middle-aged life of small activities until her restlessness propels her to begin working for Gaston Lesseur, a banker who is readying the apartment of his late father-in-law for sale. Gaston, an occasional lothario who is fond of his wife and will never leave her, is taken with Lavinia's American independence. What begins as an employer/employee relationship conducted mostly through correspondence explodes into a passionate affaire de coeur. With the drumbeat of war sounding evermore in the background, Mosby takes her readers through the heady details of a new romance that blinds lovers to the costs of adultery. The tensions of war and the strain of an illicit union collide in the author's now signature twist of fate, resulting in an ending both startling and fitting. Mosby first introduced Lavinia in The Season of Lillian Dawes. Readers entranced with the beautiful precision of Twilight will demand this earlier title. Highly recommended.-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In her pensive third novel, Mosby (The Season of Lillian Dawes, 2001, etc.) charts the emotional progress of an ill-at-ease New Yorker who finds bittersweet fulfillment as an American in Paris. Lavinia Gibbs learns early to present "an impassive facade" as a shield against her aristocratic family's cruelty. Not as pretty as her mother and sister, nor as brutally self-satisfied as her father and brothers, Lavinia recognizes in herself strong sexual feelings most unbecoming to a young lady making her debut in 1917. When her stuffy fiance's first kiss makes it obvious that he will not satisfy those feelings, she breaks off the engagement, though she's now in her 30s and knows her parents will consider this unforgivable. She's quietly content to be packed off with a modest income to Paris, where she may be lonely but can direct the course of her own life. The passion she's yearned for arrives with Gaston Lesseur, a wealthy Frenchman who hires her to inventory his dead uncle's estate. Lavinia enters the "perpetual twilight" her mother contemptuously describes as the lot of married men's mistresses, but twilight is her favorite time of day: "transforming the world into a fleeting dream of beauty and blue shadows, full of unnamed possibility." She and Gaston make love, quarrel and make up, virtually oblivious to the approach of WWII. Mosby's story seems almost as hermetically sealed as her characters' affluent lives, focused on minute details of Lavinia's interactions with her lover, her French neighbors and a few American expatriates of her social class. Yet by the time the Nazis enter Paris, we see that Lavinia is finally ready to emerge from the cocoon of family connections and expectationsthat had continued to encase her in exile. "Even if she had been raised by wolves, she was not one of them," she realizes as she heads toward an uncertain but oddly enticing future. Very low-key, but patient readers will savor the finely wrought prose and unexpectedly moving portrait of a woman who loses her privileges and finds herself.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt


A Novel
By Katherine Mosby

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Katherine Mosby
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060936967

Chapter One

It would be misleading to say that the course of Lavinia's life was diverted by a kiss, or that a chance remark would change the continent on which she lived, although both things were true. Lavinia Gibbs was not known for being either sentimental or a helpless romantic. There was nothing helpless about Lavinia at all. She was, in fact, among the most practical members of her graduating class at Miss Dillwater's Academy, a trait much commented upon in her 1917 yearbook. Born at the turn of the century, Lavinia seemed always older than her years, but this was due to her reserve rather than her wisdom.

At boarding school, she had been told about a kiss the janitor's son had stolen from Maybel Skeffler, a senior who had excelled at archery until her feminine charms became so ample they impaired her ability to pull back a clean shot with the bow. All the girls had talked about the kiss in hushed tones, in the safety of the darkness, from their narrow cots, recounting Maybel's description long after she had been taken home. It had been a revelation that was disturbing and delightful in equal measure: the heat of his lips had made her swoon "down there." Afterward, even though the janitor's son was forbidden to set foot onthe school grounds, just the sight of his father pushing a rake against a gravel path was enough to make Maybel Skeffler dizzy and liable to cry for no reason she could explain to her teachers.

Once, on a trip to Europe the summer Lavinia was thirteen, she had watched a couple embracing in a damp alleyway below the window of her hotel bathroom. It was the woman's moan that had caused Lavinia to hoist herself out of her bath and stand, dripping and soapy, on the closed lid of the toilet from which she could see, when she stood on her toes, the figures blending their bodies in the dank shadows that seemed to lick at them, swallowing now a chin or brow or shoulder.

By the time Miss Kaye, Lavinia's governess, knocked on the bathroom door, issuing directives about the attire Lavinia was expected to wear to dinner that evening, Lavinia had already been marked by the moment as surely as if she had been branded. Remembering the way the woman's voice had fluttered upward in the night, carrying a breathless urgency, Lavinia was flooded with enough jealousy and shame to make her ears burn.

That evening, before she joined her family in the hotel's rococo dining room, Lavinia spent an unusually long time examining herself in the standing mirror that filled a corner of the suite she was sharing with Miss Kaye. Lavinia had been told from time to time that she had beautiful eyes and lustrous hair, but the very fact that those two features had been singled out for comment signified to her that nothing else was worthy of praise.

Her mother had been a great beauty in her youth and even now, aged by unspecified "female" illnesses having to do with the birthing of her four children, Eliza Gibbs possessed an austere eminence that could still cause an appreciative murmur to sweep through a room when she entered, usually a little late and always impeccably attired.

Lavinia recognized in her own face the sharp, almost fierce, features of her father, a man whose distinguished career on Wall Street was only furthered by his passing resemblance to a peregrine falcon. It had given him an air of confidence that men respected and women found attractive in a vaguely primitive way; his was the face of a warrior and suggested a vitality and intelligence that were rarely questioned.

"Of my two girls," her mother was fond of saying, "you were given brains and Grace was given beauty and you should both be grateful for having been given any gifts at all, as there are plenty of girls who have neither. Besides, you are a Gibbs. Your name alone guarantees you a standing in society that most will never attain."

While those words were not comforting, Lavinia had enough horse sense to accept the truth they contained, even if it was bitter. Miss Kaye was more diplomatic: "A woman can do a great deal to commend herself to the opposite sex." Unfortunately, most of the young men Lavinia encountered at cotillions and debutante balls were less moved by the virtues of good posture, good manners, and good breeding than Miss Kaye supposed.

It was true that Lavinia was never a wallflower, the way Juliette Langhorn was, or Ruth Marshall, girls about whom unkind jokes were made by boys and girls alike, but if Lavinia was not at a loss for dance partners, it had as much to do with her sense of humor and her capacity to follow even the weakest lead as with her ability to be "alluring." Occasionally Miss Kaye allowed Lavinia to wear scent on her neck and would coil Lavinia's black hair in elaborate coiffures that showed it to advantage. Miss Kaye also had eyedrops from Germany that dilated the pupils, thereby highlighting Lavinia's best feature.

But the fellows who flirted with Lavinia never steered her across the dance floor to the balcony where, unchaperoned, they could importune her for a kiss. Her sister, Grace, older by two years, complained incessantly about forward boys and how she'd had to slap two different suitors. By Grace's eighteenth birthday she had rejected one proposal of marriage and was on the verge of accepting another.

Grace, moreover, was petite in stature, and before Lavinia had begun to menstruate she was already taller and more broad-shouldered than her older sister, a fact both her brothers teased her about with cruel delight ...


Excerpted from Twilight by Katherine Mosby Copyright © 2006 by Katherine Mosby. 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

Katherine Mosby's previous works include a collection of poetry, The Book of Uncommon Prayer, and two novels, Private Altars and The Season of Lillian Dawes, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. She lives in New York City and teaches at New York University's Stern Business School.

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Twilight 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love love it its is definetly great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We r a clan that taks clans down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
~ maggie
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book mv
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Katy. Please be okay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Um...ok.Where is it?"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Grifterwitch More than 1 year ago
I am an English Major who is constantly beset by the question "Well, omg like, have you read Stephanie Meyer's Twilight books???" The answer to that questions invariably is either me saying "Yes I read them as a teenager when L.J. Smith wrote them better." Which gains looks of confusion, or a world-weary sigh and a no. A friend of mine bought me this book so I could say "Why yes I have read Twilight", and I thought he was a nutter. I read this book for that purpose, and was blown away. It is a gorgeous tale of a young woman who is becoming herself in the midst of a rapidly changing world. It's not a love story, but there's love in there. It's just a really incredible read.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
While Lavinia should have seen it coming, Mosby captures the tyranny of passion perfectly. For those women lucky enough to have loved a Gaston in their life, you feel the pain and pleasure that such a love puts upon a woman, and the choices she must make. It's a great read... Susan Kahaner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Msg 4 u at book nnn -miss angel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im 15
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Hi im jalayni can somebody chat with me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fimally i got my nook! Waited for it wayy too long revolutions"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does it have vampires.............if not i wont read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sounds horribly very uninteresting. And whoever said that they didnt want their nook anymore is a jerk because i luv my nook and i luv barnes and noble! JERK!
Jenifer Treadway More than 1 year ago
I don't want my nook anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Iam angary at my self for buying it!!!!!!!!!++!++!+++!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!........ :"(