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In Prose's deeply touching and absorbing 15th novel, narrator Nico, 13, comes upon Gerard Manley Hopkins's Spring and Fall (which opens Margaret, are you grieving/ Over Goldengrove unleaving?) in her father's upstate New York bookstore, also named Goldengrove. It's the summer after her adored older sister, Margaret—possessed of beauty, a lovely singing voice and a poetic nature—casually dove from a rowboat in a nearby lake and drowned. In emotive detail, Nico relates the subsequent events of that summer. Nico was a willing confidant and decoy in Margaret's clandestine romance with a high school classmate, Aaron, and Nico now finds that she and Aaron are drawn to each other in their mutual bereavement. Unhinged by grief, Nico's parents are distracted and careless in their oversight of Nico, and Nico is deep in perilous waters before she realizes that she is out of her depth. Prose eschews her familiar satiric mode. She fluidly maintains Nico's tender insights into the human condition as Nico comes to discover her own way of growing up and moving on. (Sept.)
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“With perfect pitch and no trace of sentimentality, Prose . . . lands on the precise emotional key for this novel . . . allowing humor and compassion to seep through the cracks of an otherwise dark tale.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“Ms. Prose is perceptive. . . . Her modest-sounding book turns out to be beautifully wrought.... and yields an unexpectedly rich, tart, eye-opening sense of Nico’s world.” (New York Times)
“With a dazzling mix of directness and metaphor, Prose captures the centrifugal and isolating force of grief...Prose exquisitely renders her characters’ grief and bafflement.” (Los Angeles Times)
“Arguably, “Goldengrove” is her best book yet.” (Seattle Times)
“Prose locates the life force that gives her narrator the quirky, irreverent but undeniable sound of a survivor. . . . Prose is tremendously skilled.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Francine Prose’s new novel is a quiet, clear-eyed, sun-dappled eulogy to lost youth, and a youth lost. . . . [Prose is ] a keen chronicler of human emotion.” (Elle)
“A page-turner, thanks to its wholly identifiable, and perfectly flawed, young heroine. A-” (Entertainment Weekly)
“A beautiful narrative that defines resilience as the sometimes heartbreaking act of simply living” (Redbook Magazine)
“A poignant account of growing up amid sorrow...a tender and moving story of adolescent love.” (Hartford Courant)
“Prose holds up a mirror to grief and family life we can’t look away from, revealing their truths on page after page, in beautifully crafted writing.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
“Prose’s skillful rendering of the human ability to accept hard truths and move on is a poignant lesson for us all.” (Miami Herald)
“Insightful, lyrical... “Goldengrove” is beautifully and simply written...a moving portrait of the search for identity through a landscape of pain and loss.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
“Beautifully crafted...perhaps her most emotionally satisfying novel.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“An exploration of the fragility of adolescent identity and the perilous undertow of grief” (O magazine)
“Prose creates characters with real flaws that make the reader both love and hate them. It is easy to put oneself in the position of any of the players...” (Deseret Morning News)
“Deeply touching and absorbing...” (Publishers Weekly)
“...emotionally authentic...a ravishing novel of the mystery of death and life’s assertion.” (Booklist (starred review))