REVIEW: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

November 30, 2017

 

SYNOPSIS: I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do―work is paramount, absolutely no children―and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

 

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

 

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

 

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

 

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.

 

GENRE: Fiction, Contemporary

RATING:  ★★★★★ / 5 Stars because this novel is GOLD!

 

REVIEW: This book was provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review.

 

This book is a nesting doll of stories within stories. A novel about a writer gifted with immense talent who's thrust into the one role she never wanted nor agreed to - motherhood.

 

Joan Ashby is a damn good mother. She is attentive and nurturing in her duties. She handles her station with dignity and without complaint, but at the cost of her true nature. Joan's creativity never diminishes, her drive and ambition a constant bubbling just under the surface. Her attempts to carve out time for her writing are repeatedly thwarted by the needs of her sons. Again and again she finds herself tucking the typewriter away as she's forced to sacrifice her time and attention to familial responsibilities. The pain she feels at not being allowed her sustenance, the writer's life and career she so obviously deserves and is created for, is palpable and sharp.

 

 

As the reader, just when I was beginning to feel the relief at the anticipation of the book's title, when it seemed, at last, I would witness Joan's resurrection, she is dealt a massive heart rending blow. She is betrayed. She is decimated. I felt Joan Ashby's betrayal. I felt it in my bones, a personal fatal wound.

 

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby could easily be dubbed The Passion of Joan Ashby.

 

Reading this masterful debut novel has been exquisite torture. I like to imagine that Cherise Wolas has been writing stories her entire life. This book is so finely crafted and tuned. Not only a solid and beautiful novel, but a novel that contains multiple short stories and pieces of stories folded within. I wanted to read them all! All of Joan Ashby's stories were as intriguing and colorful of Joan's own story. Cherise Wolas constructed this imperceptible shift where I found myself forgetting, blissfully, that it is she herself that imagined and wrote all of these fantastical short stories, and not her character Joan Ashby. And her prose! Her writing is textured, the words like pulling a strand of jute between your teeth. I could gnaw on her prose for days. Her style has meat and girth without feeling masculine. The boldness of her writing and the gorgeous vocabulary choices don't feel haughty or theatrical at all. It is the writing of a seasoned author. Cherise Wolas, I've no doubt, is on the fast track for major literary accolades.

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Review by Frankie Brazelton of Mudville Dames

 

To see more from Frankie and learn about our guest reviewers, click here!

 

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