cover image The Fiction Class

The Fiction Class

Susan Breen, . . Plume, $14 (296pp) ISBN 978-0-452-28910-9

The collision of truth and fiction can result in romance or even redemption—or so say the writing exercises and life lessons that make up Breen’s debut novel. For years, Arabella Hicks’s love life, like her writing life, has felt flat and fruitless. Still, the 38-year-old copy editor and part-time teacher can summon neither the drive to date nor the wherewithal to finish her novel, Courting Disaster , now seven years in the rewriting. She’s anxious about her mother, Vera, whom she visits in a nursing home every Wednesday after teaching her writing class. Worried about Vera’s Parkinson’s disease—and still grieving her father’s death—Arabella discovers her personal fears seeping into classroom discussions of plot, point of view and dialogue. One student, the well-spoken, well-to-do Chuck, begins a relationship with Arabella and thus installs himself into the mother-daughter drama. Breen, a writing instructor, sometimes overplays her hand, but she does inject a dose of originality into an otherwise familiar setup. (Feb.)