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.
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.
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.