cover image Siracusa


Delia Ephron. Penguin/Blue Rider, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-16521-4

Ephron (Sister Mother Husband Dog (etc.)) undertakes a seductive and edgy dissection of two imploding marriages—and an unhinged mother-daughter alliance—alternately narrated by two ex-lovers who recount how a lifetime of small disappointments and delusions leads them to share a twisted secret. Ephron builds the mesmerizing suspense around Lizzie, a journalist, and Finn, a restaurateur, now each unhappily married: Lizzie to famed and flamed-out author Michael, and Finn to controlling and insecure Taylor. The couples’ shared vacation in Italy, which includes Finn and Taylor’s shy and manipulative 10-year-old daughter, Snow, unravels like a Greek tragedy in Siracusa, where Michael’s mistress shows up to force his breakup with Lizzie. Each of these toxic relationships puts the characters on course to careen headlong into a dark place of deceit and rage in Ephron’s brilliant takedown of marital and familial pretense. “Husbands and wives collaborate, hiding even from themselves who is calling the shots and who is along for the ride,” Lizzie says at the outset of her narrative. At its end, she marvels “at the person I turned out to be.” Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit. (July)