cover image Look at Us

Look at Us

T.L. Toma. Bellevue Literary Press, $16.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-942658-91-7

Toma (Border Dance) offers a riveting examination of the complex and destructive desires hidden in a seemingly ideal marriage. The Fowlers—Lily, a corporate lawyer, and Martin, a market analyst—have been married 12 years. Their lifestyle includes a renovated Dutch estate in Lower Manhattan, the finest restaurants, and vacations in the Caribbean. The unexpected departure of Paloma, nanny for eight years to their twin sons, upends their lives for a time until Maeve, a young Irish émigré, agrees to be an au pair for the boys. From the start, Martin is both drawn to and uncomfortable with Maeve. Her presence causes him to reexamine the “sexual diffidence” of his marriage, his past indiscretions, and his own uncertainties. Lily, worried by her husband’s attraction to Maeve, becomes fascinated with her as well and sees in her a confidante. Toma is excellent at looking intensely below the superficial and the unspoken (on Martin: “If he became a stranger to Lily, then he would almost certainly end as a stranger to himself”), and his lucid style and cool tone add power to the story. The twists and turns of this contemporary morality play will have readers engrossed. Agent: Molly Friedrich, the Friedrich Agency. (Oct.)