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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"I Couldn't Love You More" by Jillian Medoff~Startling Family Drama!

Being a step-mother has its pitfalls on a normal day, but being one when the chips are down is even more difficult.  In "I Couldn't Love You More,"   Eliot Gordon, referred to as the motherly "good one" by her sisters, loves her "steps" like her own children, but she's often stonewalled as so many caring step-mothers are.  In this close monologue of a book, we find out a good deal about mothering, how "Sophie" may have made her choice and why we take the roads in life we do.  This is a passionate book that calls to the mother and the fallible in all of us.  Read it and weep.  I did.  A book to share with your friends, mom, sisters and book group. This one will have you talking to yourself, so you'll need a friend to share it with.  You may have to buy two copies at one time!!

The book is published by:  Grand Central Publishing/Hachette and is written by Jillian Medoff.  You may find it at Barnes & Noble  and at Amazon
There are more than 400 pages to this book. 
You may also want to visit the author's website here:  http://jillianmedoff.com

Summary :

Which child would you save? A decision no parent can even fathom.
Eliot Gordon would do anything for her family. A 38-year-old working mother, she lives an ordinary but fulfilling life in suburban Atlanta with her partner, Grant Delaney, and their three daughters. The two older girls are actually Eliot's stepdaughters, a distinction she is reluctant to make as she valiantly attempts to maintain a safe, happy household . . .
Then Finn Montgomery, Eliot's long-lost first love, appears, triggering a shocking chain of events that culminates in a split-second decision that will haunt her beloved family forever. How Eliot survives-and what she loses in the process-is a story that will resonate with anyone who has ever loved a child. With hilarious honesty, wrenching depth, and a knockout twist, I COULDN'T LOVE YOU MORE illuminates the unbreakable bonds of family and reveals the lengths we'll go to save each other, even as we can't save ourselves.

Please take a moment to view this book trailer ~

Who Is Jillian Medoff ?
Jillian Medoff's bitterly funny, shocking third novel, I Couldn't Love You More, will be available from Grand Central Publishing in 2012. She is the acclaimed author of Hunger Point and Good Girls Gone Bad, both of which received surprisingly great reviews (surprising to her). A huge seller in the US, Hunger Point was the basis for the original Lifetime movie starring Barbara Hershey and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men). Although Jillian is proud of Hunger Point, had anyone asked, she would not have selected such a bright pink (any pink, frankly) for the trade paperback edition. Her books have been translated into many different languages, including French, Spanish, Hebrew, Turkish, Hungarian, Japanese (abridged), Polish, and German (forthcoming).
The eldest daughter of a traveling salesman, Jillian moved 17 times by age 17, ultimately ending up in Atlanta, where her new novel is set. She has a BA from Barnard and an MFA from NYU, and is grateful for having studied with such luminary writers as Mona Simpson, Jonathan Dee, Robert Coover, and Alice Walker. She also attended Master Classes with Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates, and Grace Paley. Although these authors continue to influence her work in powerful and diverse ways, she suspects few of them, if any, remember her. A former fellow at the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, VCCA and Fundacion Valparaiso in Spain, Jillian taught at NYU and the University of Georgia, but for only, like, five minutes. She currently lives in New York with her family, and has no plans to move anytime soon.

The Dame's Review :
I have been reading " I Couldn't Love You More" for over a week.  This is very unusual for me.  I just had to savor every word of it. I had to take time to take it all in.  Like a delicious Godiva truffle, I wanted to take my time to chew over what Jillian Medoff was "saying."  This is an extraordinary piece of literature.  It's one that warrants such time-taking.  It's a book I wanted  to cherish and reread, personally.  It may be one of those "nightstand" books because I'd like to keep opening it to passages to think on again and again.  This may give you some idea of the quality of Ms Medoff's writing. 
 I'm not surprised she worked under and studied with some of the finest authors of our times...
it shows up in her work.
I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't do some influencing herself.

The book also meant a great deal to me as a mother and step-mother.  Her ability to translate this very delicate balance of love and responsibility,
 of wanting to be loved and wanting to do what's right is just masterful.
Her telling of that risk of giving it all in mothering for what may be receiving little or no return in the long run is what each of us mothers understands...but it's more so for step-moms.
The risks in this book are just staggering.  And they kept me nailed to the novel mind and spirit.
At last, I thought, someone gets it down on paper.

I write notes about books as I read them, and I read without reading any reviews or summaries of my books if I can help it.  In this case, I kept things to a minimum.  So one of my notes to myself was about Sophie's choice.  Yes, there is that happenstance in this book and it's as horrifying here and as smashing of lives as you can imagine. The dysfunction of families, and the particular dynamics of three significantly different sisters (all playing their Shakespearean roles) is hilarious enough to break the underlying tensions. But, these are not the only things that captured me about this novel.

Primarily, and in addition to what I've already said about the mothering,  I was captivated by its quality of voice.  That's a rare thing to me. To so clearly hear the author's voice was stunning.  It was hypnotic.  It felt as if I were sitting on the sofa of my very best friend and she was telling me her life story.  I felt I was hearing her secrets; her intimate thoughts and feelings that she kept inside but was now sharing with me. 

This book begins in a sort of monologue.  At least, to me there was little dialog.
This sort of thing is ordinarily not appealing to me.  But, as I said, it was simply golden in Jillian Medoff's hands.  To this day I'm in awe of that. 
 As I write this, I wonder if my readers will even comprehend how something can be told without an emphasis on dialog and be so powerful and absorbing to the reader!
It would be redundant to tell you what "I Couldn't Love You More" is "about," so I won't do that.  Only, I will say it is such a beautifully created story of love and sacrifice and redemption.  I thought Jillian Medoff's quote of a Willa Cather saying was significant in the beginning of her book:
" There are only one or two human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."

This is one of those tellings of one of those lives and times. It may be we've all experienced much of what Ms Medoff describes in her story. It may be this that makes it so relavant and so poignant. And, it's a profound and wonderful telling.
I hope you get your own copy to read and share.  You can never have mine...
5 stars




I'm excited because Medoff is coming here in July - you've made me even more excited! The book sounds fantastic!


If Miss Medoff were ever to read this review, I believe it would inspire her to read her own novel. Once again you have written with eloquence and grace. I am a Mother first and foremost. You are my Mother first and foremost. I can't wait to read this, and share my thoughts with you. If you have this on your nightstand, I know it's an incredible book. I love this review, but I love you more. :)


I received this very humbling email from Jillian Medoff this afternoon:
Dear Deb,
I’m sitting here in my office at work (my job-job) with tears in my eyes. In your brief review, you have captured everything I wish I could say about my book. I am humbled, delighted, flattered, and, frankly, choked up. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generous reading and insightful review. I would post this in your comments but I don’t have a blog or access to any of the appropriate accounts, but please feel free to post. I am truly stunned, and, of course, a real fan of your blog.


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