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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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In this arresting first novel from Harriet Scott Chessman, Hallie Greaves comes home to Ohio one hot week in July hoping to help her mother, who confines her life wholly to her bedroom. To enter her mother's room, however, is to come face to face with Hallie's own disappointments and yearnings. At an impasse in her painting and in her marriage, Hallie confronts questions of love, memory, sorrow, and infertility. Rose, Hallie's girlhood friend, who has abandoned her literary gifts to nurture her children and her husband's career, further tugs Hallie into a reexamination of the life she has chosen.

In the tradition of Virginia Woolf and Margaret Atwood, Harriet Scott Chessman's novel has the lyrical richness of a poem. She creates a luminous and sometimes disturbing world out of this Ohio landscape of porches, pools, mulberry trees, mowed lawns, luncheonettes, and churches. Immersing us in the consciousness of five characters, Chessman addresses the ways in which memory and vision change according to one's place on the map, or in the story. In bringing together these voices, Ohio Angels constructs a brilliant and moving portrait of the intricacies of marriage and friendsship. In the face of shattering difficulties, this shared story offers surprising possibilities for humor, compassion, and renewal.

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“Chessman's language flows like a summer river. . . . A poetic and moving first novel.”

“Quietly lyrical . . . Chessman's style is fluid and unobtrusive, and manages to be meditative without being abstract.”

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Harriet Scott Chessman is the author of five novels: The Beauty of Ordinary Things (2013), Someone Not Really Her Mother (2004 & 2015), Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper (2001), and Ohio Angels (1999), and the libretto for a contemporary operatic piece, MY LAI, commissioned by the Kronos Quartet / Kronos Performing Arts Association. Harriet’s fiction has been translated into eight languages. She has taught English and creative writing at Yale University, Bread Loaf School of English, and Stanford University. After twelve years in the San Francisco Bay Area, she lives in Connecticut.