I’ve read some advanced reading copies that bode well for novels coming out this fall. Ana Turns by Lisa Gornick is one of them. Look for it when it comes out from Keylight Books (Turner Publishing) on November 7, 2023.
While I’m hoping they jazz up the rather nondescript cover, I’m betting not a word will be changed!
Ana Turns is loosely based on the Mrs. Dalloway concept. A day in the life of a woman reckoning with her past and present in order to live a richer future. Although the most notable tribute was Michael Cunningham’s, Pulitzer prize winning THE HOURS, written in 1998, in many ways, this story is a fresh take on the Virginia Woolf story. With grace, perception of what makes us tick and originality, this book was a wonderful read.
It’s Ana’s sixtieth birthday. And what are birthdays for (especially the milestones) but to think about the rest of our lives. Her life has been complicated and she understands that if she is to find happiness in her future, she must make peace with her past. Unlike Clarissa, she did not plan her party, which may be part of her overall problem.
The book is narrated by Ana as well as the central people in her life—husband, mother, father, brother, best friend and more. Although all of these points of view could be clunky and distracting, they are not. In fact, I thought they were pitch perfect in dovetailing with Ana’s chapters.
Raised by a single, resentful mother, the story opens with a birthday email. Her mother calculated that in the twenty years she was raising her, she spent $56,000, which adjusted for inflation would amount to $85,000. Had she invested it, rather than spending it on Ana it would have been A QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS. And now in her old age, she is forced to live on social security and small pension. Happy Birthday!
A great start to the auspicious day…
Her father, recently deceased, was a famous, well known architect, but wasn’t much of a father. An egotistical chauvinist never interested in his children, traveled the world, married multiple times, was never much interested in who he disappointed until towards his end.
These are the bullet points of Ana’s life now:
- She hasn’t had sex with her husband, Henry, in nine years, not since he became pot addicted after an accident.
- For seven of those years, she’s been having an affair with a gonzo journalist.
- Professionally, she is a book doula, which satisfies her to some extent as it mixes her professions of social work and study of literature but it is tilting in a negative direction.
- Her brother, George, cold, calculating, favored child has done something that affects Ana’s family without consulting her.
- And her son, Simon, is undergoing irreversible changes that is understandably rattling her but which she wants to understand and support.
Whew! There is more but I’ll leave it at that.
Ana’s thoughts are random, comic, and sometimes profound. This is an example of her thoughts after a short text exchange with her lover.
Lover. What a melodramatic word. Mistress at least has some heft and the allure of that ess falling somewhere between a sigh and a yes, but Master would be impossible. And, after seven years, is Lance less a lover than second husband? If so, would that mean that I’m a bigamist and not a cheat? Nope, Lance would say. We’re cheats. Both of us.
Lisa Gornick, author
At the dinner party finale, a colorful event with all the family in attendance at their best and worst, Ana shows us what she’s made of.
Author Lisa Gornick is a fabulous writer. The characters were nuanced and though some were extremely unlikable, you understood them. There was humor amidst the pathos. Ana was a vivid, beautifully rendered protagonist.
As a practicing psychotherapist, Gornick’s understanding of all our shades of gray, made this book sing.
Look for it when it hits the shelves!
Available on this website, Amazon, Barnes&Noble and your local bookstore
Jan Marin Tramontano has given us a novel of love and disenchantment, of dashed dreams and sustained hope. Sexy, unflinching, pinpoint accurate in its portrayal of parenting, this is an exhilarating work.
James Robison, novelist, screenwriter, poet Recipient of Rosenthal, Whiting, and Pushcart Awards