Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Lacy Simons of Hello Hello Books in Rockland, Maine.
Lacy Simons is a hard person to buy a book for — she owns a bookstore.
But this holiday season, one of her employees did just that.
"Which was a bold move," Simons said. Though "it worked out really well for him, because it's one of the best books I've ever read."
The book is "The Resurrection of Joan Ashby," by Cherise Wolas.
At the center of the narrative is Joan, a woman who has known she wanted to be a writer since her earliest days. "The book starts with a list of precepts she lays out for her life, to be a successful writer," Simons explained. The most important one: Don't have children.
For a time, her plans work. She publishes two novels to great acclaim, earns several awards and develops a fervent fan base.
But "her clear and childless trajectory she plotted out for herself, she unwillingly deviates from it. She ends up having two sons and abandoning writing for long stretches of her life."
"What's compelling and brilliant about it is the balance that you feel her constantly making," Simons said. "Any woman who has a creative bone in her body will be familiar with that struggle, the balancing of your own demands on your creative self with the demands of everyone and everything else in your life. That's part of what makes the book so riveting and familiar."
The book's intricate structure also kept Simons hooked.
"There are books within the book. There are excerpts from Joan Ashby's own writing — the books she's already published as well as the book she's writing as the narrative of the novel itself unfolds," she explained.
"It's absolutely brilliant. I would read all of Joan Ashby's books, and that's a testament to the absolute ridiculous skill that Cherise Wolas has. And it's her first book! I can't get over that. I can't wait to see what's next."