I was lucky to receive a copy of The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas in a giveaway by Flatiron Books. All thoughts and images are my own.
Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do—work is paramount, absolutely no children—and now love seems to me quite marvelous.
These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.
When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.
Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.
Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.
By page 20 of this 500 page book, I was hooked, and I hadn’t even met Joan yet. There’s something special about writers writing about writers. In Outline by Rachel Cusk, one writer criticizes another for writing about a painter, claiming she stuck her own story onto the painter and equated the experience of writing with that of painting. She was wrong to do so; writers and painters are not the same. She should have just stuck with what she knew. Wolas sticks with what she knows in the most playful and delightful manner. Joan is brilliant; she knows it and we know it because the literary magazine “quoted” at the beginning of the novel tells us so. Nevertheless, she still proves her brilliance to the reader by including excerpts of her work throughout the novel. I wish Joan was real so I could read anything (and everything) she published. Wolas gives us a taste of Joan’s work, but not enough. What Wolas does sprinkle in is unique; some excerpts parallel or foreshadow the plot, others simply exist in the text.
This book is not just about the stories within the story. The story itself is fascinating. Joan is more than three dimensional. She is a living, breathing friend. Wolas peppers her with life; through both the narration and Joan’s actions, I came to understand the full image of her. She is not perfect. She longs for prestige and fame – she wants to be known as the great writer that she is. It’s easy to identify with the desire to be renowned. Joan is selfish and fiercely independent and her status as a mother forces her to contend with both of those traits. Something has got to be sacrificed, but life is long. Things hardly stay the same forever.
I adored the first two thirds of this book. There were major plot twists that I never saw coming – I didn’t even think to look. I wasn’t as enamored with the final section, but I still loved Joan, so on I read. And, on the whole, I loved it. This is the kind of book I would want to write if I were a writer.
Read this book if you like smart women and bad-ass book babes. Joan is certainly all of the above and more.
Interested in this book? Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at your local bookstore!