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Saturn's Return to New York

Saturn's Return to New York

by Sara Gran

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This is Mary Forrest's Saturn Return year, her twenty-ninth; the year that the planet Saturn returns to the exact spot it was in when she was born. It presages a time of change, change that Mary is unprepared for. She must overcome intimacy and abandonment issues, resurrect her relationship with her ailing mother, and learn to trust the man that she


This is Mary Forrest's Saturn Return year, her twenty-ninth; the year that the planet Saturn returns to the exact spot it was in when she was born. It presages a time of change, change that Mary is unprepared for. She must overcome intimacy and abandonment issues, resurrect her relationship with her ailing mother, and learn to trust the man that she loves.

Sara Gran is a graduate of Tufts University who has since worked in New York City bookstores. She lives in Brooklyn.

Editorial Reviews

Compelling and moving.
Publishers Weekly
The protagonist of Gran's first novel is a young Manhattanite who works in publishing, dodges ex-boyfriends at parties, practices yoga and smokes the occasional cigarette. While this may suggest a certain urban singleton on the other side of the Atlantic, Gran, herself a New Yorker, offers instead a character who is not in search of the perfect man. Mary Forrest is finally coming of age. She lost her father when she was a young girl, and now that she's an adult, is making a conscientious effort to forge a better relationship with her mother, Evelyn, the aging founder of a prestigious literary magazine. For her 29th birthday, Mary's friend Chloe gives her a session with an astrologer, who tells her that when she reaches age 29, the planet Saturn returns to the same spot it was in when she was born, so it is now that she really becomes an adult. What this means for Mary is learning to love her job at Intelligentsia, an online bookseller, and to enjoy Evelyn's company. But she comes up against some resistance: at work, an obviously nutty colleague tries openly to steal Mary's job; on the family front, Evelyn is beginning to lose her memory and her mind. Gran has crafted an almost unbelievably strong character in Mary; her optimism and sturdy staying power are admirable. Although many of the book's New York publishing scenes may alienate readers who don't frequent the same circles, Gran has written a smart, discerning story that will appeal to readers seeking to break out of Bridget Jones tedium. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
As a Christmas gift, Mary's best friend takes her to a psychic, a beautiful Indian woman with extra toes and fingers who tells Mary she's in for a tough year. When you turn 29, she explains, Saturn returns to where it was when you were born, precipitating the last, painful struggle before true adulthood. And Mary is indeed having a hard time: her mother, Evelyn, is sick, a recent spate of forgetfulness having turned into a full-fledged disease. Mary's parents were the founding editors of a popular New York literary review, so Mary grew up surrounded by the brightest literary talent. After years of working in publishing, she has finally settled into her current job at Intelligensia, an Amazon.com-like entity where she writes reviews. Whether it is Saturn's return or Evelyn's illness that forces Mary to reevaluate her life, the result is an entertaining first novel with a New York literary edge. Best of all, it is enjoyable without being cotton candy fluff. Recommended for public libraries. Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Thoughtful debut about a young woman coming to terms with her father's suicide and her mother's illness. Unlike much of the self-consciously hip, unattached-woman-juggles-career-and-romance stories glutting the market, Gran's first offers sly humor while incorporating some emotional heft. Twenty-nine-year-old Mary has a mildly satisfying job in New York at an on-line bookseller, a reasonably priced apartment, and a few close girlfriends. But all this moderate happiness will soon be called into question as Saturn enters her astrological house. As a birthday gift, Mary is given an in-depth reading from an Indian mystic and is told that every 29 years Saturn returns to where it began, causing upheaval and, perhaps, enlightenment. Mary could do with a little of the latter, having had enough upheaval for a lifetime. Daughter of Michael and Evelyn Forrest, literary royalty of Greenwich Village, Mary spent a charmed early childhood in the midst of writers and assorted bohemians as her parents founded the city's foremost literary journal. The charm was broken with her father's suicide when she was seven, driving an unspoken wedge of guilt and sorrow between Mary and Evelyn. Only now, as her mother's memory is mysteriously slipping, do the two make attempts at real friendship, Mary growing to appreciate the brilliant woman her mother is. Evelyn's failing health isn't the only Saturn surprise: Austin, a true love who disappeared, is now back on the scene and hopes to rekindle a relationship. Storyline aside, one of the most compelling characters here is the city itself. Woody Allen himself would be proud of the affectionate portrait made of Manhattan, the small hidden spots and treasured eateriesof the past and the slightly less glorious present. Plot-strings unravel a bit at end, but this is better than the usual single-woman fare, and a must for nostalgic Manhattanites.

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.85(w) x 7.88(h) x 1.52(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When I was seven, my father killed himself. He woke upone morning in 1977 and swallowed a bottle of Valium thatmy mother's doctor, ironically, had prescribed to help hercope with with the stress of my father's depression. Well, theValium helped with the stress, all right. You could almostsay those pills solved the whole problem.

    No one had told my mother that the pills could be fatal(although someone, obviously, had told my father), and asa result she hasn't trusted doctors since. So it was a fewmonths after she started losing her memory before she relentedand made an appointment with Dr. Snyder on ParkAvenue. It's nothing, Dr. Snyder assured her. You're notyoung anymore, and this is what we expect to see at yourage, a little memory loss. Everyone takes it hard.

    She tried not to take it hard. Two months later she camehome from work to 105 East Twelfth Street and her house keywouldn't work. She tried another key. Stuck. It wasn't untilshe tried every key on her ring, twice, that she rememberedshe hadn't lived on Twelfth Street since 1977. She went backup to Dr. Snyder on Park Avenue. Now, Dr. Snyder said,we'll run some tests. It's normal, it's natural, it's just a smidgenmore than we expect to see at this age, it's progressinga little more rapidly than we would like and so we'll runsome tests, we'll run some very expensive tests and we'll see.

    Evelyn, my mother, mentioned the visits to Dr. Snyderoffhandedly during one of our monthly phone calls, as regularas the full moon. I didn't know what to say so I asked,lamely, why she didn't tell me earlier.

    "I didn't want you to worry," she said. "They said maybeit's my circulation, so I'm taking some pills. Herbs. Thatshould help. It's probably nothing, I just—well, I thought Ishould tell you. I thought you should know what's going on.It's probably nothing."

    It was definitely not nothing. If it was nothing she wouldn'thave told me about it. I asked if there was anything I coulddo.

    "Actually," she said, "there is something I'd like you do."The slight Brooklyn accent my mother had when I was a girlhas, without my father's WASPy Connecticut influence,thickened a little every year since he died. Now she speaksfrom her throat with drawn-out vowels and hard ts and youwould never know, listening to her, that she moved to Manhattanin 1961. She said: "We're having the holiday party atwork in a few weeks and I'd like you to come. Just in case—well,you know. In case I need some help."

    No, this is not nothing.

    Dr. Snyder said, we'll see. Now my mother tries to get adead person on the phone once a week and has twice moretried to go home to Twelfth Street and we haven't seen anything.Thousands of dollars worth of blood tests and neurologicalexams and we actually see less; one month ago wesaw a world of possibilities: we saw vitamin deficiencies;Alzheimer's; psychiatric disorders; alcohol abuse; drug abuse;blood-sugar conditions; brain tumors; head injury; encephalitis.Now almost every diagnosis Dr. Snyder and his team canthink of has been eliminated, and we see nothing at all.

Excerpted from Saturn's Return to New York by SARA GRAN. Copyright © 2001 by Sara Gran. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Sara Gran is the author of the novels Saturn's Return to New York, Come Closer, Dope, and Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, the first in a detective series. Her work has been published in over a dozen countries and in nearly twice as many magazines, newspapers, and literary journals. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Sara Gran now lives in California.

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