Tuesday, 7:30 pm EDT June 2, 2020
7:30pm ET / 4:30pm PT
Celebrate the June 2 release of Martha McPhee’s novel An Elegant Woman, published by Scribner. Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth (shortlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize), will interview the National Book Award finalist on why she chose to use aspects of her own family history in telling the story of four generations of women.
Join us in a toast with your own Cucumber, Basil & Lime Gimlet:
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka
- 2 slices cucumber (1/4-inch slices)
- 1 1/2 fresh basil leaves
- 1 ounce lemonade
- 1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
- Garnish: basil leaf
- Muddle the basil and cucumber in a shaker.
- Add remaining ingredients and ice and shake.
- Strain into a rocks glass over ice.
- Garnish with a basil leaf.
Martha McPhee is the author of the novels An Elegant Woman, Dear Money, L’America, Gorgeous Lies, and Bright Angel Time. Her work has been honored with fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. In 2002 she was nominated for a National Book Award. Her novels have been Best Books of The Year on the New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune lists. Her essays and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Newark Star Ledger, Vogue, More, Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Traveler, Travel & Leisure, among many others. McPhee is a tenured member of the English Department at Hofstra University, where she teaches fiction. She lives in New York City with her children and husband, the poet and writer Mark Svenvold.
Julia Phillips is the debut author of the nationally bestselling novel Disappearing Earth, which is being published in twenty-three languages and was a finalist for the National Book Award. A Fulbright fellow, Julia has written for the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the Paris Review. She lives in Brooklyn.
An Elegant Woman
By Martha McPhee
Published by Scribner
Drawn from the author’s own family history, An Elegant Woman is a story of discovery and reinvention, following four generations of women in one American family. As Isadora, a novelist, and two of her sisters sift through the artifacts of their forebears’ lives, trying to decide what to salvage and what to toss, the narrative shifts to a winter day in 1910 at a train station in Ohio. Two girls wait in the winter cold with their mother—the mercurial Glenna Stewart—to depart for a new life in the West. As Glenna campaigns in Montana for women’s suffrage and teaches in one-room schoolhouses, Tommy takes care of her little sister, Katherine: trapping animals, begging, keeping house, cooking, while Katherine goes to school. When Katherine graduates, Tommy makes a decision that will change the course of both of their lives.
A profound meditation on memory, history, and legacy, An Elegant Woman follows one woman over the course of the 20th century, taking the reader from a drought-stricken farm in Montana to a yellow Victorian in Maine; from the halls of a psychiatric hospital in London to a wedding gown fitting at Bergdorf Goodman; from a house in small-town Ohio to a family reunion at a sweltering New Jersey pig roast. Framed by Isadora’s efforts to retell her grandmother’s journey—and understand her own—the novel is an evocative exploration of the stories we tell ourselves, and what we leave out.
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