The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
(Flatiron – August 29, 2017)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Stunning, sweeping, mind-bending – this is a doorstop of a novel that touches on the very deepest core of motherhood and womanhood, while simultaneously showcasing the best short stories I have ever read…….as part of the story.
Thanks to Flatiron for providing me with an advance copy of this book for review purposes – all opinions are my own.
Book Description (from Goodreads)
“I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do―work is paramount, absolutely no children―and now love seems to me quite marvelous.”
These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.
When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.
Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.
Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.
Honestly, when I think of this book, I think of Joan Ashby being the author. Which is insane, because Joan Ashby is the protagonist. But. Intellectually I understand that Cherise Wolas wrote this – I mean, I KNOW that. But Joan Ashby as an author within this book is so superbly talented and we are so deep inside her head and we read SO MUCH of her work within the book, that when I look for this book in stores and the library I will surely be looking under “ASH” and not “WOL”. And that, my friends is masterpiece. Wolas has managed to deliver us into a fictional reality that transcends the boundaries of ordinary fiction – I have stopped myself a few times from trying to add Ashby’s books to my TBR list in Goodreads or ordering them on Amazon.
But wait. There’s definitely more to this story than just Joan’s stories. There’s the most honest and cutting and brutal commentary on motherhood that I have ever read – a commentary that isn’t a comfortable one, but is one that I am so happy has been exposed. There’s also the look into the very essence of being a writer and needing “a room of one’s own” – and I can surely relate given that I am attempting to write this review while being interrupted by 3 children as I sit in in the middle of a house in which I do NOT have a room of my own! There is also betrayal. And a marriage. And travel. And self-discovery. And so many things I adored.
As you can see, I can’t really review this. I just loved it. I want to buy Joan’s books. Or maybe I need Wolas to just write so. much. more. Highly highly recommend to anyone who writes. Or who loves literary fiction. Or who is a mother. Or who has a mother. So, basically EVERYONE. Read. This. Book.