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Broken for you
Stephanie Kallos
Adult Fiction

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"The dead, Margaret thought. They can be so loud." So muses the protagonist of this dreamy, powerful tale of familial warring, secrets and redemption. When elderly Margaret Hughes discovers that she has a malignant brain tumor, she refuses treatment and decides to take a nice young tenant into her huge, lonely Seattle mansion for company. What she gets is Wanda Schultz, a tough-as-nails stage manager who is secretly seeking the man who left her and prone to inexplicable weeping breakdowns. Wanda, ignorant of Margaret's illness, is intrigued by the museum-like house and its eccentric owner-so when Margaret unexpectedly invites her to a drink-champagne-and-break-the-priceless-antique-china party for two, she's delighted. But a dark history lurks; the houseful of gorgeous antique porcelain comes from Margaret's father's WWII pilfering of European Jewish homes. Meanwhile, Wanda's father, who deserted her years ago, is on the road trying to heal, and Margaret's mother's ghost is haunting the Seattle mansion, lounging about in expensive peignoirs and criticizing her only daughter. Wrestling to keep the dead and the ghosts of their pasts at bay, the two women slowly build an extraordinary friendship, and when Wanda discovers a talent for mosaics, the past begins to quiet. Though it takes a while to get started, this haunting and memorable debut is reminiscent of early Atwood, peopled by lovably imperfect and eccentric characters. Agent, Simon Lipskar at Writer's House. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Seventy-five-year-old Margaret Hughes lives alone in a mansion filled with valuable antiques, intrusive memories of her dead mother and young son, and a newly diagnosed brain tumor. Determined to change her staid, lonely life, she places an ad soliciting boarders and attracts Wanda Schultz, a young theatrical stage manager who has come to Seattle on a desperate mission to find the oafish boyfriend who left her. Both women have broken hearts, spirits, and bodies, but this is ultimately a work of repair and redemption. Margaret and Wanda not only set out to banish the ill-gotten antiques and their painful pasts but also to build relationships with each other and with Margaret's other boarders--a registered nurse, a gay chef from Alabama, a yoga instructor/hotel valet boyfriend for Margaret, and a cowboyish technical assistant trying to win Wanda's fragile heart. Actress, teacher, and first-time novelist Kallos has given us a compelling, richly layered story reminiscent of works by John Irving and Anne Tyler in its bittersweet humor and well-drawn characters; Carol Shields also comes to mind for the sharp attention to domestic detail and insight into the tenuous relationships of contemporary life. Fans of character-driven novels should be able to forgive any implausible plot developments. Recommended for all fiction collections.--Jenn B. Stidham, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

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main characters Margaret Hughes
Female
Age: 75
Eccentric
Refusing treatment for a malignant brain tumor.

Wanda Schultz
Female
Age: Young adult
Abandoned
Margaret's new tenant; abandoned as a child; unaware of Margaret's illness.
Stage manager



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