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For two quietly unhappy years, linguist Claire Gallagher has been living deep in the New Hampshire woods, enduring a polite but strained marriage to a highly respected scientist. Once a determined overachiever and academic star in her own right, she now spends her days avoiding her stalled dissertation and creating EZ crossword puzzles. But for all Claire's knowledge of words and their meanings, the meaning in her own life eludes her. One bleak morning in winter, she announces that she's leaving.
By nightfall, at the urging of her younger sister Noelle, Claire finds herself heading to the last place she thought she would ever go: Ireland the birthplace of her abrasive, chronically ill mother and the country Noelle, a college dropout, now calls home. In a small town on the Irish coast, Claire's struggle to move ahead with her life takes her deep into the puzzles of her past in a world in which there are no simple answers, and the only questions that matter are those of the heart.
|Product dimensions:||5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Elise Juska's short stories have appeared in many magazines, including The Hudson Review, Harvard Review, Salmagundi, Black Warrior Review, Calyx, and The Seattle Review. She teaches fiction writing at The New School in New York City and The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her first novel, Getting Over Jack Wagner, is available from Downtown Press.
Visit the author's website: www.elisejuska.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A lovely novel. One for Sorrow, Two for Joy will make you long to travel as well as remind you of all the things at home you cherish. Claire, unhappy in the past as well as the present, leaves her professor husband and travels to Ireland to visit her carefree sister. There, like the crossword puzzles she is constantly creating, she begins to piece her life together, reassemblng memories of her difficult, deceased mother, and connecting with her wild sister and distant father. All this set against the stormy green of Ireland, the pubs, peat, jigs, and superstition, makes this both a contemplative and lush ride.
Claire is an etymologist, who didn't finish her PhD to move with her entomologist husband to New Hampshire. The best I can say is Claire is a snobby, messed-up, unfeeling nutcase who worries whether one is using the word sylvan correctly. She leaves Bob, and, having no where to do, visits her younger, happier, more loving college drop-out sister who has moved to Ireland to be with her boyfriend and tend bar. If you are expecting Claire to change while finding herself in this book, you will be disappointed. She is as unpleasant and cold at the end as at the beginning. Two thumbs down.
Predictable plot and ending.
Former etymology graduate student Claire tells her spouse Bob, an entomology professor that she is leaving him. Ever logical he asks her where she will go if she leaves their New Hampshire home. Married two years she leaves her ring behind as she tells him she does not know yet but will inform him once she does. She reflects back to when they met when both were in graduate school. She saw him ¿talking¿ to a caterpillar. They began to date and when he was offered a teaching position in New Hampshire, she stopped writing her PH.D in linguistics to marry and join him. Since she stopped going to school Claire has felt useless and does not fit in with the other spouses of professors. Claire calls her younger sister Noelle in Ireland informing her she left Paul. Noelle says she is surprised that Claire showed the guts and invites her to spend time with her and her boyfriend. Claire reflects on how the two sisters have seen each other twice in two years, at her wedding to Bob and at their mom¿s funeral. Claire accepts the invitation and leaves Bob a message. Now the two sisters try to reconcile the split caused by mom favoring Noelle and dad defending Claire. --- The key to this fine family drama is the changing relationship between the two sisters. The lead protagonist struggles with finding her place in life. This is handled deftly through present incidents and flashbacks although why Claire stopped working on her dissertation is unclear as school was her life before Bob. The dysfunctional family that the siblings were raised in allied each to a differing parent, which adds depth to the heroine¿s present day problems. Fans of a deep character study starring an adult coming of age protagonist will enjoy Elise Juska¿s fine look at Claire seeking something of substance even if it means sleeping alone. --- Harriet Klausner