cover image A Cowardly Woman No More

A Cowardly Woman No More

Ellen Cooney. Coffee House, $16.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-56689-671-9

A series of uncanny events befall a woman at her company’s annual banquet in Cooney’s captivating latest (after One Night Two Souls Went Walking). Trisha Donahue grew up poor, but now, at 44 and married with two kids, she’s a successful analyst. On banquet day, though, things start to fall apart. To begin with, the venue, a countryside restaurant that’s located near where Trisha grew up, has recently reopened after being allegedly damaged by a comet. And Trisha has just been passed over for a promotion that she and her colleagues had considered a done deal. At the restaurant, she leaves her table during the dinner to wander around the building, and upon walking into an empty room, her inner life fires up (“The deepening hush around me felt like a new friend, just for me”), and things get delightfully weird as the night goes on. A restaurant employee brushes off her questions about the comet and an old boyfriend serves her dinner in an attic, where others visit from her past. Along the way, she reflects on her humble origins and the desperation of her new life. This elegant and off-kilter upending of the office novel sings. (Apr.)