THE RESURRECTION OF JOAN ASHBY: A Review

This 2017 debut novel by Cherise Wolas is “a stunning debut–because there is nothing debut about it.” (A.M. Holmes, NY Times bestselling author).  I agree with this statement one hundred percent. This is one of the smoothest, most professionally-written, insightful novels I have ever read.  Every character is beautifully developed, every plot twist and turn is unexpected, and even shattering in one instance. The story explores, and maybe exploits, the thoughts and inner life of a writer in its main character, Joan Ashby.

The plot Wolas develops stems from “sacrifice” that is demanded with the onset of motherhood and the profound effect it can have on a gifted writer. Although originally unapologetic about her ambition, when the time comes Joan, our protagonist, makes the selfless choice, not once but twice with entirely different and even difficult outcomes. Excerpts from Ashby’s “dark and singular stories ” as one of her critics describes them are interspersed throughout the novel, and I must confess that I would love to read more than one of those imaginary short stories in its entirety.

Her struggles to set her two precocious sons on the road to success and happiness demand time and attention she must steal from her writing. Towards the end, with the plot developments that occur, Joan comes to question every decision she has made in her life, and as she travels to India to examine her accomplishments and failures, to evaluate her life and her life’s work, and there she makes the only decisions she CAN make to satisfy the intelligent reader.  The article from a fictional literary magazine, which serves as an epilogue adds to the reader’s sense of closure and satisfaction with “the way things work out at the end.”

I highly recommend this book and rank it “right up there” with A Gentleman in Moscow as the best book I’ve read this year.

 

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

6 thoughts on “THE RESURRECTION OF JOAN ASHBY: A Review”

    1. yes. You should be able to enter the title in the search box and find it. It was the best book I read in 2017. WONDERFUL!!! I bought it for a friend for Christmas I liked it so much.

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