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Susan Conley, her husband, and their two young sons say good-bye to their friends, family, and house in Maine for a two-year stint in a high-rise apartment in Beijing, prepared to embrace the inevitable onslaught of new experiences that such a move entails. But Susan can't predict just how much their lives will change. While her husband is consumed with his job, Susan works on finishing her novel and confronting the challenges of day-to-day life in an utterly foreign country: determining the proper way to buy apples at a Chinese megamarket; bribing her little boys to ride the school bus; fielding invitations to mysterious "sweater parties" and tracking down the faux-purse empire of the infamous Bag Lady; and getting stuck in an elevator, unable to call for help in Mandarin. Despite the distractions, there are many occasions for joy. From road trips to the Great Wall and bartering for a "starter Buddha" at the raucous flea market to lighting fireworks in the streets for the Chinese New Year and feasting on the world's best dumplings in back-alley restaurants, they gradually turn their unfamiliar environs into a true home. Then Susan learns she has cancer. After undergoing treatment in Boston, she returns to Beijing, again as a foreigner--but this time, it's her own body in which she feels a stranger. Set against the eternally fascinating backdrop of modern China and full of insight into the trickiest questions of motherhood--How do you talk to children about death? When is it okay to lie?--this wry and poignant memoir is a celebration of family and a candid exploration of mortality and belonging.
"Sensual and seductive, Paris Was the Place pulls you in and doesn't let you go. Find your nearest chair and start reading. With her poet's eye, Conley has woven a vivid, masterful tale of love and its costs." --Lily King, author of Father of the Rain When Willie Pears begins teaching at a center for immigrant girls who are all hoping for French asylum, she has no idea it will change her life. As she learns their stories, the lines between teaching and mothering quickly begin to blur. Willie has fled to Paris to create a new family for herself by reaching out to her beloved brother, Luke, and her straight-talking friend, Sara. She soon falls for Macon, a charming, passionate French lawyer, and her new family circle seems complete. But Gita, a young girl at the detention center, is determined to escape her circumstances, no matter the cost. And just as Willie is faced with a decision that could have potentially dire consequences for both her relationship with Macon and the future of the center, Luke is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness, forcing Willie to reconcile with her father and examine the lengths we will go to for the people we care the most about.In Paris Was the Place, Conley has given us a beautiful portrait of on how much it matters to belong: to a family, to a country, to any one place, and how this belonging can mean the difference in our survival. This is a profoundly moving portrait of some of the most complicated and glorious aspects of the human existence: love and sex and parenthood and the extraordinary bonds of brothers and sisters. It is a story that reaffirms the ties that bind us to one another.
What was the point of being a witch if Annabelle Walsh couldn't manage a spell to fix her broken heart? Okay, maybe calling herself a witch was pushing it - but as a dedicated dabbler in all things metaphysical, the twenty-six-year-old figured she could, at the very least, speed up the healing process. Dumped out of the blue by high-powered banker Wilson Monroe, her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, Annabelle's hopes of walking down the aisle seem remoter than ever, and springtime in New York had never looked so dismal.With the help of her dearest friends in the world - cool, calm, and collected Lorna, and fiery, feisty, and foul-mouthed Maria Grazia - Annabelle tries to pull herself out of the dumps by crying her eyes out, getting smashed on girly drinks, and trying to work the odd spell. An idle wander into an unfamiliar New Age shop adds the bit of magic in her life that she'd been looking for: a Pooka called Callie, an interfering, mischievous spirit determined to turn Miranda's life around - mostly by turning it upside down.Suddenly, Annabelle hasn't got time to brood, and her career as a journalist begins to take off; in fact, it's during a brainstorming session for an off-off-off-off Broadway theatre production that she meets tall, dark, and handsome Jamie Flynn, an Irishman in New York who seems to be keen at first sight, if not in love quite yet. As Annabelle gets her life back on track, she starts to see the difference between real life, a real career, a real man . . . and all it took was a little magic mischief.Sensuality Level: Behind Closed Doors
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