By Heather Clay
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780375415388, 272pp.)
Publication Date: March 23, 2010
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Raised on their parents’ Kentucky horse farm, Charlotte and Knox Bolling grow up steeped in the cycles of breeding, foaling, weaning, and preparation for sale that the Thoroughbreds around them undergo each year. As sisters, they are as tightly connected within that vast and beautiful landscape as their opposing natures—and the subtly shifting allegiances within their close family—allow.
When Charlotte leaves Four Corners Farm, marries Bruce, and moves to Manhattan’s West Village, the sisters’ feelings for each other remain as intense and contradictory as ever, despite the distance between them. But nothing will solder their lives more fatefully than Charlotte’s pregnancy and the day on which she delivers twin boys, then dies of complications following their birth.
Together, Knox and Bruce—sister- and brother-in-law in name, but strangers in every other respect—take up the work of caring for Charlotte’s two motherless boys. In their mourning, and in the joy and desolation that flood in as their love for the children deepens, Bruce and Knox confront the ways in which their bonds to Charlotte have shaped them and struggle to define the tentative bond they are forming with each other as they navigate their exhausting, emotional daily rounds. A gripping, powerfully affecting debut novel from a stunning new writer.
Heather Clay is a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia University’s School of the Arts. She has published short fiction in The New Yorker and written for Parenting. She lives in New York City with her husband and their two daughters. This is her first novel.
Praise for Heather Clay
“The family in this novel is so vividly imagined that I am still thinking of them: not as characters but as real people, recent companions of mine who have been through a lot, and for whom I wish serenity and in time joy. Losing Charlotte marks the debut of a very gifted young writer.”
—Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier and Songs Without Words
“Heather Clay is a graceful and assured new writer with a great gift for character: the people in her fiction are as complex, beautiful and real as they are in life. Losing Charlotte is a spellbinding first novel.”
—Lauren Groff, author of Monsters of Templeton
“Strong writing . . . . an auspicious debut.”
—Mary Ellen Quinn, Booklist
“[An] arresting debut. . . . Highly recommended for those who enjoy themes about family and sibling relationships and fans of women’s fiction a la Elizabeth Berg, Anne Lamott, Alice Hoffman, and Jodi Picoult.”
—Shaunna Hunter, Library Journal
“Heather Clay’s writing style is dreamy, elliptical . . . She describes moments with beautiful precision and aptly relays the murky, battering numbness of grief.”
—Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Vivid . . . [has] the ring of truth . . . Clay knows how to craft a realistic plot and characters who, under pressure, change in believable ways. Losing Charlotte is a promising debut.”
—Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
“Clay's debut novel has plenty to say about familial relationships in general and sisterhood in particular.”
“[A] heart-wrenching debut novel. . . . Clay’s characters are flawed yet fun, and her storytelling style is as endearing as an old friend’s.”
—Elisabeth Egan, Self Magazine
More than 150 writers from 40 events will gather in New York City for PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, April 28 – May 4, 2014.
For its 10th anniversary, the festival celebrates those who have dared to stand ‘on the edge,’ risking their careers, and sometimes their lives, to speak out for their art and beliefs. Join us for a wide range of events, including debates, one-on-one conversations, participatory workshops and performances in venues throughout the city. Use the code PEN14 (use PEN2014 for events at The Public Theater) and receive a 20 percent discount on most events. www.worldvoicesfestival.org