Excerpt from December by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

December
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2008,
    256 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2009,
    256 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Ruth pushes the cart to the side of the aisle and out of the way of the other shoppers while she waits for Isabelle to return. She looks at the neatly stacked groceries in the cart in front of her and tries to remember when her daughter developed this grocery store habit. Three years ago? Four? Ruth wonders if she should have taken such perfectionism as a sign that something wasn’t right. If she had, then maybe things wouldn’t have to gotten to this point. And even if she hadn’t taken that as a warning sign, surely she should have worried more when her daughter insisted on moving her mattress into the middle of her bedroom and taking the frame away to make things “safe.” And certainly she should have thought twice when, at eight, Isabelle cultivated the ability to speak backward. Too many times these thoughts have crossed her mind, and she is getting tired of them.

She wonders what would happen if she rearranged a box or two. She wonders if Isabelle would notice. Looking around her first to make sure her daughter is nowhere in sight, Ruth puts the Triscuits where the raisin bran had been and the raisin bran in the Triscuits’ spot. Just a subtle change. The two boxes are about the same size, so the overall arrangement of things hasn’t been disrupted.

Isabelle returns with a box of devil’s food cake mix, the icing, and the jam. They already have the eggs and oil at home. She puts the icing and the jam with the other jars—peanut butter, pickles, and pasta sauce—in the child seat, but then she pauses when she goes to put the box of cake mix in among the other boxes down below. She stares into the cart, then slowly, deliberately, puts the Triscuits and raisin bran back into their original positions. She finds a spot for the cake mix and looks Ruth hard in the eye. Ruth feels herself blushing. “Isabelle,” she says. She wonders if she should make up an excuse: she was just reading the backs of all the boxes as she waited and must have put them away wrong, she thought the yellow of the Triscuits box would look better beside the red of the Cheez-Its box than the purple of the raisin bran did. “I’m sorry,” she says, but Isabelle is already headed in the direction of the check-out lane.

Excerpted from December by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  163The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.