Praise for One Night Two Souls Went Walking:
Newsweek, “Must-Read Fall Books”Bustle, “Best Books of Fall 2020”
“Cooney does a remarkable job structuring a novel of vignettes and stories within stories into a cohesive whole. Equally remarkable is her portrait of the chaplain as a personification of the potential for human goodness. . . . The perfect novel to combat pandemic angst. ” —Kirkus, starred review
“Cooney's warm and hopeful novel is a salve for these times.” —Juliana Rose Pignataro, Newsweek
“Many novels aim for the soul or search for the meaning of life, but Ellen Cooney’s poetic 10th novel gets to the heart of the matter with more informal candor and wit than most. . . .Cooney’s novel expands the concept of what’s possible, imagining hope where there is none and pointing always toward the light.” —Mari Carlson, BookPage, starred review
“Illuminating. . . . A memorable collage of souls in need. Cooney’s uplifting novel captures extraordinary moments of sadness, pain, and grace, as one woman brings light to life’s darkest moments.” —Publishers Weekly
“Ellen Cooney's new novel centers on a hospital chaplain bringing comfort and peace to patients of all ages and backgrounds. . . . she listens to the stories that emerge in each hospital room, bringing with them ruminations on the nature of human life and death.” —Kristian Wilson, Bustle
“In Ellen Cooney’s thoughtful, beautiful novel One Night Two Souls Went Walking, the traumas of a hospital’s patients become a way to think about the concept of souls. . . . [T]heir experiences, coupled with the chaplain’s memories, result in a cohesive, thought-provoking story that reveals rare moments of light and connection, making One Night Two Souls Went Walking a meaningful novel that centers hope and peace, even in the face of profound struggles.” —Catherine Thureson, Foreword Reviews
“A poetic story of wandering souls, filled with the beauty of human encounters and the sorrows of departure.” —Dorthe Nors
“Whenever I read Ellen Cooney, I feel like I am in the presence of a cunning medium—an unwavering mind reader of memories, dreams. One Night Two Souls Went Walking has the familiarity of old fairy-tale books, the steadiness of Tove Jansson, the abstraction of Silvina Ocampo, and something entirely new. A lovely and grave novel.” —Kate Bernheimer
“It’s the very rare book that pierces both spirit and sense of humor. One Night Two Souls Went Walking wrapped me in its warm wisdom from the start. Reading it was like reading a Mary Oliver poem or Marilynne Robinson novel—radiant, humane, splendidly joyous.” —Alyson Hagy, author of Scribe
Praise for The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances:
New and Noteworthy from USA TodayA Best New Book of the Week from People
"This book will grab your heart and not let go." —John Grogan, author of Marley & Me
“A wise, engaging meditation on dogs, love, and recovery from pain. Come. Sit. Read!” —Lily King, author of Euphoria and The Pleasing Hour
Praise for Ellen Cooney:
“This remarkably talented author writes in a refined, understated prose.” —New York Times Book Review
“A writer with style and heart.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Ellen Cooney has a talent for creating fine, quirky characters.” —Washington Post
“Ellen Cooney’s laser-bright writing, zany sense of humor and unerring ear for dialogue cannot be praised highly enough.” —Mademoiselle
“Cooney writes with light grace.” —Boston Globe
Cooney’s brief but compelling novel—in which an unnamed chaplain takes readers on her rounds during one night at a large Northeastern hospital—explores issues like mortality, spiritual survival, and human connection.
The 36-year-old Episcopal chaplain, frizzy-haired and pear-shaped, has what her boss calls a natural gift for telling people what they need to hear. Her instinctive ability to soothe becomes increasingly evident as she travels from one patient to another. She is spiritual but practical. While she asks “What is a soul?” in the novel’s first line—and returns to the question in different guises throughout—the narrator’s spiritual quest does not cause her moral qualms about lying when necessary, whether to soothe a doctor who fears she's sinned or give hope to a dying chef who expects his former restaurant patrons to visit en masse. Her favorite patients are an elderly, deeply lonely librarian and a 15-year-old boy who’s survived a catastrophic accident physically shattered but with his gentle magnetism intact. Less appealing characters, like a lawyer who is rude to the staff, also receive her understanding. Each has a story. Often the stories lead the chaplain to stories from her own past. A subtle plot takes shape almost between the lines concerning the chaplain’s unresolved relationship with Plummy, a neuroscientist 10 years her junior now living in Germany, who's fascinated by out-of-body experiences, what he calls oobs; confronted during her shift with two possible oobs, the chaplain is forced to reexamine the idea of soul yet again but also to reconsider her relationship with Plummy. Those oob walks of the title may stretch credibility, but Cooney does a remarkable job structuring a novel of vignettes and stories within stories into a cohesive whole. Equally remarkable is her portrait of the chaplain as a personification of the potential for human goodness. Though introspective, the narrator is never self-absorbed. Her voice, funny and direct, keeps sentimentality at bay.
The perfect novel to combat pandemic angst.