The Spectacular: Book summary and reviews of The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall

The Spectacular

by Zoe Whittall

The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall X
The Spectacular by Zoe Whittall
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2021
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Three generations of women strive for real freedom in this startling, provocative novel exploring sexuality, gender, and maternal ambivalence, from the acclaimed author of The Best Kind of People.

It's 1997 and Missy is a cellist in an indie rock band on tour across America. At twenty-two years old, she gets on stage every night and plays the song about her absent mother that made the band famous. As the only girl in the band, she's determined to party just as hard as everyone else, loving and leaving a guy in every town. But then she meets a tomboy drummer who is hard to forget, and a forgotten flap of cocaine strands her at the border.

Fortysomething Carola is just surfacing from a sex scandal at the yoga center where she has been living when she sees her daughter, Missy, for the first time in ten years—on the cover of a music magazine.

Ruth is eighty-three and planning her return to the Turkish seaside village where she spent her childhood. But when her granddaughter, Missy, winds up crashing at her house, she decides it's time that the strong and stubborn women in her family find a way to understand one another again.

In this sharply observed novel, Zoe Whittall captures three very different women who each struggle to build an authentic life. Definitions of family, romance, gender, and love will radically change as they seek out lives that are nothing less than spectacular.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Whittall delivers a clear-eyed portrait of maternal ambivalence in her impressive latest...[she] is excellent at writing the small, intimate details and sharp dialogue, as well as the mostly propulsive plot, while making no bones about opinions on gender inequities. Whittall is a great storyteller, and her latest does not disappoint." - Publishers Weekly

"The author plays with time, weaving past and present in a way that sometimes works beautifully but at other times creates confusion. Even so, the characters and their unabashed determination to live life on their own terms are sufficiently compelling to keep readers turning the page. An entertaining story that is equal parts family saga and cultural indictment." - Kirkus Reviews

"Zoe Whittall has this incredible ability to go straight at the honest emotional heart of a story, and yet even with that ferocity, her writing is always graceful, a total joy to read. It makes it so easy to love her characters. In the best books, characters feel like my friends, but with the mothers of The Spectacular, they came to feel like my family." - Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby

"The Spectacular is a lush, sweeping novel that excavates the maternal layers of a family's genealogy to breathtaking, surprising ends. This book will leave you with a brilliant roar inside your chest—Whittall's prose is afire with the most complex and daring forms of empathy." - Alissa Nutting, author of Made for Love

"Just imagine this book dog-eared, spine-cracked, pages limp from use, living by your bedside—because from the moment you open The Spectacular, you'll happily succumb to a totally absorbing contemporary epic with characters and social worlds that are Edith Wharton–level dimensional but as relatable as your own uncannily recognizable self." - Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox

This information about The Spectacular shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Zoe Whittall

Zoe Whittall is the author of three previous novels, including the Giller-shortlisted The Best Kind of People, the Lambda-winning Holding Still for As Long As Possible, and her debut, Bottle Rocket Hearts. She has published three collections of poetry: The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life, Precordial Thump, and The Emily Valentine Poems. She is also a Canadian Screen Award–winning TV and film writer, with credits on the Baroness von Sketch Show, Schitt's Creek, Degrassi, and others.

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