Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Freebie: Women in Bed by Jessica Keener and The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Congratulations to Karen Carlson, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Life Among Giants by Bill Roorbach.

This week's book giveaway is a pair of novels which--I'm going out on a solid, unbreakable limb here when I say this--are definite must-reads for this end-of-summer season.  Women in Bed by Jessica Keener and The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan are two solid works of fiction which everyone should have on their bookshelf.  One lucky reader will win a copy of both books in this week's contest.

Women in Bed is Jessica Keener's follow-up to her small-press smash-success novel Night Swim.  This new book is a collection of nine short stories which novelist Dawn Tripp calls "seductive, incandescent, suspenseful, and wise."  Women in Bed doesn't officially hit bookstores until October, but I've got an early copy of the book to give away here at the blog.  This is what you'll find between the covers:
      “Secrets” follows a young woman who gets involved with a female friend who pushes her boundaries around sex, love, and intimacy.  In “Papier Mache,” a college student who loses her brother to suicide is grieving and gets entangled with a professor who is a critic and over-intellectualizes everything.  The student challenges the professor and vice-versa in a strange power dance with emotional fallout.  “Boarders” tells the story of a young college student who drops out to be with her narcissistic lover.  She lives in a grim boarding house with desolate, lonely men until she realizes that she must flee to find something better, healthier, more nurturing and loving.  “Woman with Birds in her Chest” involves a woman who leaves her social worker job and realizes she has never truly nurtured herself.  Her ensuing breakdown puts her loving marriage to the test.  “Recovery” tells of a young woman in a hospital room who witnesses death, escapes her own, and comes to terms with life’s uncertainties and the unexpected power of sibling love.   In “Shoreline,” a woman leaves her husband, goes to a cottage on the beach, and has a flirtation with a client.  She soon discovers that she must end her marriage before she can move on to find a new love.  In “Bird of Grief,” a grad student recovering from a broken relationship projects her anger and grief onto a new man, eventually coming to terms with letting go.  “Forgiveness” is a spare, stark story of two sisters, family violence, and the quest for forgiveness.  In “Heart,” a woman meets her lover in a Paris hotel room and goes through a cycle of anxiety, worry, and the expectation that things will not work out, only to be surprised by the goodness that emerges.
       Poignant, surprising, funny and profound, and always perceptive and gorgeously written, Women in Bed is a rich collection of moving tales that will engage you from the first page.
Blurbworthiness: “It is impossible to turn away from these beautiful and evocative stories.  Jessica Keener explores the courage, vulnerabilities, and strength of women in every phase of life.  No matter who you are, you will see a version of yourself illuminated in this poignant, powerful book.” –Jessica Anya Blau (The Wonder Bread Summer)

The Engagements makes a nice companion piece to last summer's bestseller Maine.  J. Courtney Sullivan's new book is, according to the Los Angeles Times, a "sprawling novel about marriage [which] spans nearly 100 years and focuses on four couples, as well as a young single copywriter who coins the ad slogan ‘Diamonds Are Forever,’ which resonates through the decades."  The Engagements is bursting with plot and characters, including the following:
Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place.  Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over.  James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own.  As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947.  Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.”  And that line changes everything.  A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love.
Blurbworthiness: “The Engagements...opens in 1947 with ad-agency copywriter Frances Gerety...Struggling to find a last-minute tagline for De Beers, she scribbles down ‘A Diamond Is Forever' and promptly falls asleep.  For Frances, a lifelong bachelorette, it's just marketing—her boss points out that the phrase isn't even grammatically correct.  But Engagements' other characters show how much her tossed-off idea came to define diamonds as the ultimate symbol of love and commitment...[Sullivan is] a born storyteller.  Like its mineral muse, Engagements shines.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

If you'd like a chance at winning both Women in Bed and The Engagements, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on Aug. 15, at which time I'll draw the winning name.  I'll announce the lucky reader on Aug. 16.  If you'd like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words "Sign me up for the newsletter" in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you've done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying "I've shared" and I'll put your name in the hat twice.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this giveaway, David. --A complete surprise to wake up to today. Can't wait to see who the winners are.