Elsey Come Home: Book summary and reviews of Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley

Elsey Come Home

by Susan Conley

Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley X
Elsey Come Home by Susan Conley
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2019
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the widely praised author of Paris Was the Place - a shattering new novel that bravely delves into the darkest corners of addiction, marriage, and motherhood.

When Elsey's husband, Lukas, hands her a brochure for a weeklong mountain retreat, she knows he is really giving her an ultimatum: Go, or we're done. Once a successful painter, Elsey set down roots in China after falling passionately for Lukas, the tall, Danish MC at a warehouse rave in downtown Beijing. Now, with two young daughters and unable to find a balance between her identities as painter, mother, and, especially, wife, Elsey fills her days worrying, drinking, and descending into desperate unhappiness.

So, brochure in hand, she agrees to go and confront the ghosts of her past. There, she meets a group of men and women who will forever alter the way she understands herself: from Tasmin, another (much richer) expat, to Hunter, a young man whose courage endangers them all, and, most important, Mei - wife of one of China's most famous artists and a renowned painter herself - with whom Elsey quickly forges a fierce friendship and whose candidness about her pain helps Elsey understand her own.

But Elsey must risk tearing herself and Lukas further apart when she decides she must return to her childhood home - the center of her deepest pain - before she can find her way back to him. Written in a voice at once wry, sensual, blunt, and hypnotic, Elsey Come Home is a modern odyssey and a quietly dynamic portrait of contemporary womanhood.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [Conley] hits the mark on a story line that feels both high-stakes and fine-tuned. But it's the raw desperation of Elsey's inner dialogue that elevates the novel, making for an honest and astute depiction of the human psyche." - Publishers Weekly

"... Conley's slim novel illustrates the power of storytelling as a process for healing. What entices and endures here is the voice: dreamy, meditative, hypnotic, and very real." - Kirkus

"Conleys' (Paris Was the Place, 2013) reflective, mesmerizing narrative crafts a compelling journey as her protagonist opens up to her vulnerabilities and truths." - Booklist

"I loved Elsey Come Home. The exotic setting, the characters Elsey meets along the way - her husband, her little girls, her dilemma. And the writing, spare and lovely. What more can I say - perfect." - Judy Blume, author of In the Unlikely Event

"Elsey Come Home is a delicious read, vivid and delicately wrought, and so very prescient with regard to the mother-child bond that it's almost eerie...An engrossing, moving meditation on family, loss, creativity, secrets, culture, and the bonds that hold our lives together against the odds." - Carolina De Robertis, author of The Gods of Tango

"Susan Conley's voice is so intimate and filled with such exquisite detail it was as if a friend was whispering Elsey Come Home in my ear...Anyone who has ever felt separate and finally comes together will find himself or herself in Elsey Come Home." - Betsy Carter, author of We Were Strangers Once

"What a quirky little gem of a book Susan Conley has written. I'm still trying to figure out how she created a character so seemingly lost to herself without losing me in the process. There's genuine alchemy here." - Richard Russo

"Elsey's voice is a triumph. It sings. The writing is exquisite and tells the story of someone who has lost herself to the point that the pain in her life threatens to divide her from the people she loves most. There is so much is at stake here, and even the small moments resonate. I loved, loved this novel." - Lily King, author of Euphoria

"Elsey Come Home is a triumph, a book of powerful women and even more powerful tradition...I love Susan Conley's sentences - spare but lyrical, hard-edged but melodic, not a word extra, a story so big no Talking Circle could ever contain it." - Bill Roorbach, author of The Remedy of Love and The Girl of the Lake

"Elsey Come Home is a thing of wonder and beauty, a novel about faraway places, both internal and external. I read this in one thirsty gulp, and through its window was shown certain truths about the joy, pain, and intricacy of marriage, and of being. Susan Conley is a magical writer; this book is her magic." - Mike Paterniti, author of The Telling Room

"I love Elsey - her vulnerability, and self-awareness, and her love for her daughters, which permeates the novel. This book is lush with colors, smells, and sounds, and has a compulsive, deeply gratifying shape." - Lewis Robinson, author of Water Dogs

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Author Information

Susan Conley

Susan Conley is the author of the novel Paris Was the Place and The Foremost Good Fortune, a book that won the Maine Literary Award for memoir. Born and raised in Maine, her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and Ploughshares. She has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Maine Arts Commission, and the Massachusetts Arts Council. She spent three years in Beijing with her husband and two sons before moving back to Portland, Maine, where she currently lives. She teaches in the Stonecoast Writing Program at the University of Southern Maine.

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