cover image A Likely Story

A Likely Story

Leigh McMullan Abramson. Atria, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-982199-24-1

In Abramson’s clever debut, the daughter of a famous novelist wants to be a writer, too. Isabelle Manning grows up in Manhattan idolizing her narcissistic father, Ward. But when her mother dies, she’s still floundering at 34, both professionally and in her personal life. Her own novels have been rejected by publishers, and she won’t allow her friendship with college classmate Brian to develop into romance. Ward is equally at sea: each of his recent books have sold fewer copies than the last, his current project is stalled, and he’s beginning to worry he might have dementia. Abramson periodically interrupts her stories of the frustrated writers with passages from a manuscript about a woman who forges her artist husband’s work after his death. Before Abramson reveals the author of this manuscript along with the source of its inspiration, Isabelle makes her way into the city’s literary scene, then wonders if it’s where she belongs after all. Though the tone shifts vertiginously from acerbic wit to heightened sentiment, the inventive structure keeps readers guessing about what the manuscript will reveal about the Mannings. It lands as a thought-provoking meditation on family. Agent: Stefanie Lieberman; Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Mar.)