THE WRITING CIRCLE
BY CORINNE DEMAS
When Nancy, whose most recently published work is a medical newsletter, is asked to join a writing group made up of established writers, she accepts, warily. She’s not at all certain that her novel is good enough for the company she’ll be keeping. Her novel is a subject very close to her heart, and she isn’t sure she wants to share it with others, let alone the world. But Nancy soon finds herself as caught up in the group’s personal lives as she is with their writing. She learns that nothing—love, family, loyalty—is sacred or certain.
In the circle there’s Gillian, a beautiful, scheming, world-famous poet; Bernard, a pompous but lovable biographer; Virginia, a respected historian and the peacemaker of the group, who also happens to be Bernard’s ex-wife; Chris, a divorced father and successful thriller writer; and Adam, the youngest of the group, an aspiring novelist who is infatuated with Gillian. And then there’s Nancy, an unassuming fiction writer embarking on a new chapter in her own life. They meet to read their work aloud and offer feedback. Over the course of a year, marriages are tested, affairs begin, and trust is broken.
Through their complicated relationships, these eccentric characters share their families, their beds, and their histories, and soon find that buried secrets have a way of coming to light. Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this richly engaging tale of love, betrayal, and literature.
Corinne Demas is the author of Eleven Stories High: Growing Up in Stuyvesant Town, 1948–1968, a memoir; two collections of short stories; a collection of poems; and numerous books for children. She has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships as well as an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. A professor at Mount Holyoke College and a fiction editor of The Massachusetts Review, she divides her time between Western Massachusetts and Cape Cod. She has belonged to several writing circles.
Discovering Corinne Demas first through her fabulous memoir, ELEVEN STORIES HIGH, and then being charmed with her poetry and many children’s books, such as the delightful holiday tale about finding new friends in TWO CHRISTMAS MICE, Corinne Demas never fails to please her readers. THE WRITING CIRCLE, her newest novel, is no exception. Drawing from her own experience in writers’ groups, teaching her craft, and writing so many wonderful books, Corinne Demas gives readers a fascinating look at the literary world that “outsiders” are normally not privy to. THE WRITING CIRCLE leads readers through an interesting character study of a group of writers and from there expands to include their families and shows how their complex personal lives intertwine to produce complications, romance, mystery, and betrayal.
Set in western Massachusetts, Demas’s familiar home base, the narrative is told using a different point of view in each chapter, alternating between the various characters. I found this to be the perfect way to follow the story by looking at all sides of the issues and intricacies of the characters. The Leopardi Circle is the name of the writing group that meets to share parts of their current work, be it fiction, poetry, or non-fiction. The purpose being to gain constructive feedback that might improve each writer’s work.
The main character, Nancy Markopolis is the newest member of the group who is asked to join when one of their members dies. Nancy is tentative at first as she listens to the more experienced writers, but she soon overcomes that as she learns more about each member. Hers is a novel of fiction which is drawn from an early memory of her beloved father and is based on his early life and in a way, pays homage to him. Her personal life is in a good place right now and little does she suspect what this new association will do to tear her dreams to shreds.
Researching George Frideric Handel, is Bernard, an overweight, unrestrained biographer who actually introduces Nancy to the group. Bernard is so wrapped up in himself that he is rather oblivious to the complicated emotions and feelings of other around him. Bernard’s ex-wife, Virginia, is a novelist and the comforting maternal figure of the group. She is always there to offer sympathy and compassion to the group when friction occurs.
In the two single males, we find Adam, the youngest of the group, and one that Virginia has taken under her wing, who has been working on a new novel for so long as he tries to draw from his Master’s Degree in Fine Arts project. Adam is a melancholy and naive character suffering from unrequited love. Chris, the older of the two, is the author of successful thrillers that he writes on a regular basis. He restrains himself as he tries to maintain his relationship with his two young sons that are being played as pawns by his self-centered ex-wife in a custody battle.
Finally, there is the poet, Gillian, a possible Pulitzer Prize candidate, who is the famous writer in the group, and whom everyone values for her work. However, some have had other relationships with Gillian while another yearns for more. Gillian’s condescending personality and inexhaustible egotism drives the group mad as well as steers the plot toward disaster.
THE WRITING CIRCLE draws the reader into the lives of the characters, and twists and turn just enough to make one suspect where things are heading only to be shocked by such a startling and stunning conclusion. Corinne Demas totally had me for the entire novel and then absolutely knocked me off my feet with the ending. DO NOT look at the last page, PLEASE, as the pleasurable build up to the climax of the book is a journey you will take, in my opinion, in one sitting, as you are so drawn in and you can’t put down THE WRITING CIRCLE!
THANKS TO CORINNE, MOLLY, AND
THE GOOD PEOPLE AT HYPERION/VOICE,
I HAVE ONE COPY OF THIS MARVELOUS
NEW NOVEL AND BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN
THIS BOOK AND AUTHOR SO MUCH, I AM
ADDING A SECOND COPY MYSELF SO THAT
I CAN HAVE TWO LUCKY WINNERS!
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HOW TO ENTER:
+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK HERE AND LEAVE ME YOUR LINK
+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON SOMETHING YOU FOUND INTERESTING ON CORINNE DEMAS'S WEBSITE. YOU MAY WANT TO LOOK AT ALL THE BOOKS SHE HAS WRITTEN FROM CHILDREN'S TO ADULTS' AND SEE WHICH YOU HAVE READ, OR WOULD LIKE TO READ, BY SEARCHING HER WEBSITE HERE
+1 MORE ENTRY: VISIT MY EARLIER INTERVIEW LAST DECEMBER WITH CORINNE DEMAS AND READ IT TO SEE THE "CONNECTION" I HAVE WITH HER. COMMENT ON SOMETHING INTERESTING YOU FOUND OUT IN THAT INTERVIEW BY GOING HERE
6 PM, EST, AUGUST 23!