Best friends and roommates Martha and Nina have a problem — their lives don’t seem to be taking them anywhere more interesting than the bar filled with meatheads where they work in Cleveland, Ohio. And their twenties are quickly drawing to a close. After a particularly grueling evening on their feet — and Martha getting a glimpse of a different person, a better person, in the dirty bathroom mirror — the ladies decide it’s time to make a change. They hop in the car and embark on a road trip, decided to be guided only by their trusty, beloved copies of Jane Austen’s Emma and Don Quixote de la Mancha.
In Susan Petrone’s A Body At Rest, Martha desperately wants something “magical” to happen — something to remind her that there’s more to life than the shallow, seemingly empty existence she and Nina have been living in recent years. Nina’s days are filled with interactions with married men, and bouncing from one activity to the next; Martha fuels her afternoons with cigarettes, booze and novels. And they’ve both had just about enough.
Their wanderings take them to a cornfield in Iowa, where Martha stands and waits to feel a shift in time, life — something. Nothing seems to have happened . . . until the women return to Ohio. And some very interesting changes begin to take place. Martha finds herself walking in the footsteps of beautiful, self-absorbed Emma Woodhouse, while Nina seems to be abandoning her womanhood to become a taller, leaner shadow of her former self. And they learn quite a bit about each other — and the figures they come to inhabit — along the way.
I enjoyed this book — it was fun, mostly light-hearted and interesting. As a huge Austen fiction buff, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect about a woman “becoming” Emma Woodhouse, but I’m always up for something new! And while the actual mechanics of what happens to Martha and Nina are never really explained (and can be a bit confusing at times), I still appreciated a different spin on Austen’s classic character. Nina and Martha’s friendship was strong, and those bonds carried them through all of the story’s surprising twists and turns. At points I wasn’t really sure where the story was going, but it arrived at a very nice, resolute place — and an unexpected place, too. A good read for Austen fans, and those looking for a good contemporary fiction piece with flavors of the past interspersed! There are plenty of literary allusions to the original texts to keep fans of both classic books looking for clues.
3.5 out of 5!
ISBN: 9780982060919 ♥ Purchase from Amazon ♥ Author Website
Review copy provided by author in exchange for my honest review
3 thoughts on “Book review: ‘A Body At Rest’ by Susan Petrone”
Well, I should probably check this out since there are so few books that take place in Cleveland. Thanks for the review.
Sounds a little confusing.
enjoyed your review; the premise of the book sounds relatable and interesting. (except for the cleveland part…i’ve visited but it’s too cold to live there.)
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