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Bettina Ballentyne is a chocolate heiress only by name; it is her glamorous and narcissistic mother, Babs, who lives up to the billing and plays by no one's rules. Navigating a simultaneously treacherous and alluring landscape of wealth, sex, and decadence--first in her privileged childhood in Chicago and later at a top-tier east coast boarding school--Bettina must figure out how to reconcile her yearning for maternal affection with her mother's take-no-prisoners-style parenting. Ashley Prentice Norton's unflinching eye and acerbic wit capture Bettina's coming of age with the perfect mixture of tragic and comic. Simultaneously sassy, deeply twisted, and uproariously funny, the novel's sharp and sparkly humor will have you laughing during its darkest moments. A mesmerizing portrayal of the corrosive effects of an American fortune, The Chocolate Money is a shocking and intensely readable debut.
A seductive novel about a privileged but damaged Manhattan wife whose main source of stability -- her marriage -- comes under threat, from forces both without and within. For most of their marriage, Althea has fluctuated between extreme depressive and manic states -- what she calls "the Tombs" and "the Visions" -- and Oliver has been the steady hand that guided her to safety. This summer, Althea decides that she will be different from here on. She will be the loving, sexy wife Oliver wants, and the reliable, affectionate mother their nine year-old daughter Clem deserves. Her plan: to bring Clem to their Easthampton home once school is out -- with no "summer girl" to care for her this time -- and become "normal." But Oliver is distant and controlling, and his relationship with their interior decorator seems a bit too close; Clem has learned to be self-sufficient, and getting to know her now feels like very hard work for Althea. Into this scene enters the much younger, David Foster Wallace-reading house painter, who reaches something in Althea that has been long buried. Fearless, darkly funny, and compulsively readable, If You Left explores the complex dance that is the bipolar marriage, and the possibility that to move forward, we might have to destroy the very things we've worked hardest to build.
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