Wednesday, August 16, 7:00 PM
Jessie Chaffee, author of FLORENCE IN ECSTASY and Lisa Carey, author of THE STOLEN CHILD, discuss their latest works with "Slice Magazine" creative director, Celia Johnson
Co-sponsored by the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance and Banded Horn Brewing Company
Beer and snacks provided!
FLORENCE IN ECSTASY: A young American woman arrives in Florence from Boston, knowing no one and speaking little Italian. But Hannah is isolated in a more profound way, estranged from her own identity after a bout with starvation that has left her life and body in ruins. She is determined to recover in Florence, a city saturated with beauty, vitality, and food -- as well as a dangerous history of sainthood for women who starved themselves for God. Hannah joins a local rowing club, where Francesca, a welcoming but predatory Milanese, and Luca, a seemingly steady Florentine with whom she becomes involved, draw her into Florence's vibrant present: the complex social dynamics at the club, soccer mania, eating, drinking, sex, an insatiable insistence on life. But Hannah is also rapt by the city's past--the countless representations of beauty, the entrenched conflicts of politics and faith, and the lore of the mystical saints, women whose self-imposed isolation and ecstatic searches for meaning through denial illuminate the seduction of her own struggles. Both sides pull Hannah in: challenging her, defeating her, lifting her up. And when a figure from her past life in Boston reappears, threatening the delicate balance of her present, Hannah's feverish personal excavation becomes caught up with the long history of women's contention with body and spirit, desire and death. A vivid, visceral debut echoing the novels of Jean Rhys, Elena Ferrante, and Catherine Lacey, FLORENCE IN ECSTASY gives us an arresting new vision of a woman's attempt to find meaning--and find herself--in an unstable world.
THE STOLEN CHILD: From the author of the critically acclaimed THE MERMAIDS SIGNING comes a haunting, luminous novel set on an enchanted island off the west coast of Ireland where magic, faith, and superstition pervade the inhabitants' lives and tangled relationships--perfect for fans of Eowyn Ivey, Sarah Waters, and Angela Carter. From one side of St. Brigid's Island, the mountains of Connemara can be glimpsed on the distant mainland; from the other, the Atlantic stretches as far as the eye can see. This remote settlement, without electricity or even a harbor, has scarcely altered since its namesake saint set up a convent of stone huts centuries ago. Those who live there, including sisters Rose and Emer, are hardy and resourceful, dependent on the sea and each other for survival. Despite the island's natural beauty, it is a place that people move away from, not to -- until an outspoken American, also named Brigid, arrives to claim her late uncle's cottage. Brigid has come for more than an inheritance. She's seeking a secret holy well that's rumored to grant miracles. Emer, as scarred and wary as Rose is friendly and beautiful, has good reason to believe in inexplicable powers. Despite her own strange abilities -- or perhaps because of them -- Emer fears that she won't be able to save her young son, Niall, from a growing threat. Yet Brigid has a gift too, even more remarkable than Emer's. As months pass and Brigid carves out a place on the island and in the sisters' lives, a complicated web of betrayal, fear, and desire culminates in one shocking night that will change the island, and its inhabitants, forever. Steeped in Irish history and lore, THE STOLEN CHILD is a mesmerizing descent into old world beliefs, and a captivating exploration of desire, myth, motherhood, and love in all its forms.