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If You Left If You Left

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Book Reviews

"A woman suffering from bipolar disorder reaches a crossroads in her marriage and her life in this irresistible, tightly plotted novel. Althea Willow seems to have everything. Her husband, Oliver, owns a highly successful sunglasses company, and Althea is known for her controversial photography. If only she could relate more to their adopted 10-year-old daughter, Clem, she thinks she might just get this family thing right. Unfortunately, her affliction is in the driver's seat, and she's a slave to her symptoms, and a host of insecurities. Things come to a head when, after a decision to redecorate their East Hampton vacation home, Oliver brings in his beautiful French colleague, Claire Bissot to help. Althea is mortified, sensing they're more than just coworkers, and Oliver's past affairs only fuel the fire. Things really heat up when Althea hires Maze, a young painter who brings out a desire in her that she thought she'd lost. Norton (The Chocolate Money) writes Althea with a sure hand, unsentimental in her portrayal of a woman who is ruled by her illness and her codependent relationship with Oliver, yet desperately yearns for more. The lean narrative is unflinching, which only makes Althea's story, and her eventual self-enlightenment, even more poignant." — Publishers Weekly