Izzie Silver -- a warmhearted Irishwoman with a mane of chestnut hair and a zest for life -- is a New York success story, a highly successful booking agent at a top-notch modeling agency. But while she dreams of starting an agency for plus-sized models, at heart she's still the convent schoolgirl from the exquisite Irish coastal town of Tamarin. Which is why falling in love with a married man is something Izzie couldn't possibly imagine herself doing -- until it happens. And it's something she feels she could never tell her beloved family.
...but you 'll never take Ireland out of the girl.
Meanwhile, back in Tamarin, there's heartache, too. Izzie's aunt Anneliese is trying to hide her pain at her husband's betrayal of their marriage. And Lily -- family matriarch and still feisty despite being nearly ninety -- is taken ill. In her hospital bed, she reveals a tantalizing hint of a secret she has kept for decades, from her time as a 1930s servant girl at the local big house, before she ran off to London during World War Two to train as a nurse. Will the family be torn apart by the secrets they can't reveal...or will they have the courage to share their heartbreak and their joy?
Kelly (Past Secrets) brings a strong voice and deft hand with character to this engaging story about repairing three generations of broken hearts. Izzie Silver is a smalltown Irish girl turned successful booker at a top modeling firm in New York City, where she dreams of someday setting up her own agency for plus-sized models. She's fallen in love with Joe Hansen, a financier who is handsome, generous, charming-and married. Unfortunately, Izzie doesn't think she can go to her normal advice source on this one-her grandmother Lily just wouldn't understand. Meanwhile, Izzie's aunt, Anneliese, learns her husband of 37 years has been having an affair with her best friend. Things get worse for Izzie and Anneliese when Lily suffers a stroke, but through Lily's old journals dating back to WWII, the women discover Lily had some romantic secrets and massive heartbreak of her own. Kelly cleverly subverts women's fiction clichés and delivers some excellent and unconventional plot twists. The conclusion won't leave a dry eye in the house. (Feb.)
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February 09, 2009
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Excerpt from Lessons in Heartbreak by Cathy Kelly
oneThe New Mexico sun was riding high in the sky when the Zest catalog shoot finally broke up for lunch. Izzie Silver stood up and stretched to her full five feet nine inches, glorying in the drowsy heat that had already burnished the freckles on her arms despite her careful application of SPF 50 sunscreen.Truly Celtic people -- with milk-bottle skin, dots of caramel freckles and bluish veins on their wrists -- only ever went one color in the sun: lobster red. And lobster red was never going to be a fashionable color, except for early stage melanomas.It was her second day on the shoot and Izzie could feel her New Yorker-by-adoption blood slowing down to match the sinuous pace of desert life. Manhattan and Perfect-NY Model Agency, who'd sent her here to make sure nothing went wrong on a million-dollar catalog shoot involving three of their models, seemed a long way away.If she had been in New York, she would have been sitting at her desk with the rest of the bookers: phone headset on, skinny latte untouched on her desk and a stack of messages piled up waiting for her. The office was in a sleek block off Houston, heavy on glass bricks and Perspex chandeliers and light on privacy.At lunch, she'd be rushing down to the little beauty salon on Seventh where she got her eyebrows waxed or taking a quick detour uptown into Anthropologie on West Broadway to see if they had any more of those adorable little soap dishes shaped like seashells. Not that she needed more junk in her bathroom, mind you; it was like a beauty spa in there as it was.In between scheduling other people's lives, she'd be mentally scrolling through her own, thinking of her Pilates class that night and whether she had the energy for it. And thinking of him. Joe.Weird, wasn't it, how a person could be a stranger to you and then, in an instant,becomeyour whole life? How did that happen, anyway?And why him? When he was the most inconvenient, wrong person for her to love. Just when she thought she'd cracked this whole life thing, along came Joe to show her that nothing ever worked out the way you wanted it to. You have no control -- random rules.Izzie hated random, loathed it, despised it. She liked being in charge.At least being here gave her the space to think, even if she was missing her eyebrow appointment, her Pilates and -- most important -- dinner with Joe. Because Joe took up so much space in her head and in her heart that she couldn't think clearly when he was around.Here at Chaco Ranch, with the vast hazy spread of dusty land around her and the big sky that seemed to fill more than the horizon, clear thinking felt almost mandatory.Izzie felt as much at home as if she was sitting on the back porch of her grandmother's house in Tamarin, where sea orchids dotted the grass and the scent of the ocean filled the air.Chaco Ranch, just thirty minutes away from the buzz of Santa Fe, was a sprawling, white-painted ranch house, sitting like an exquisite piece of turquoise in the middle of sweeping red ochre.And though it was geographically a long way from Tamarin, the small Irish coastal town where Izzie had grown up, the two places shared that same rare quality thatmañanawas far too urgent a word and that perhaps the day after tomorrow was time enough for what had to be done.While the ranch was landlocked with huge cacti and mesquite trees guarding the house and mountains rising up behind them, Tamarin sat perilously on rocks, the houses clinging to steep hills as if the roar of the Atlantic would send them tumbling down.In both places, Izzie decided, the landscape made people aware of just how puny they were in the grand scheme of things.The consequent tranquillity of the ranch had calmed everyone down at least as much as two hours of Bikram yoga would.Bookers rarely went on shoots: their work was confined to the office, living on the phone, relying