THE GREAT HUSBAND HUNT
Graham's humorous fictional autobiography of Poppy Minkel, the tart-tongued heiress ("Jewish, to just the right degree") of Minkel's Mighty Fine Mustard, is a Zelig-like romp through the 20th century. Poppy's irrepressible voice recreates her world with a disarming bluntness that often abandons propriety for a good laugh ("education is a greatly overrated thing") while never sidestepping the essential truths of any well-lived life (e.g., "No one can be expected to look at difficult art without a glass in one's hand"). Graham's enjoyable The Future Homemakers of America toasted the delights of long-term friendship between women and exhibited the author's flair for nostalgic historical fiction. Her new novel views history through Poppy's wide, self-obsessed eyes, painting a lyrically linear portrait of a flawed, believable character who never abandons her quest to be a "heroine." Poppy's "memoir" begins with her grief over losing her father on the Titanic, barrels along at a great pace through WWI, the 1920s, the 1930s, WWII, the 1960s and ends with a sanguine widow's observations in the late 1970s. Poppy's evolution through heiress/shop girl, fashion "originator"/wife, aviatrix/seductress, mother/art gallery owner/widow proceeds at a dizzying clip. Married first to a rake she meets while selling ties at Macy's, Poppy divorces him after their first child is born and takes up with a Brit distantly related to the Royals. Their affair results in a surprise pregnancy and leads to a second, happier marriage. Poppy weathers many losses, but her friendship with her stepbrother Murray—most beloved of her family members—teaches her a great lesson: "In life you have to look ahead and not behind." (Oct. 1)
Forecast:Graham's protagonist is much less conventional than the book's title leads readers to expect; those looking for ordinary historical romance will get more than they bargained for.
Release date: 10/01/2003