I am wrecked.
I have two very tantalizing things for you today.
First, let me back up for a second. I’m a board member at my local library, so I go to a library conference once a year. At the library conference are hundreds of ARCs. Book nerds everywhere will recognize the shorthand for advanced reader copies, the uncorrected, promotional versions of soon-to-be-published books. Basically a sneak preview.
Anyway, at this year’s conference I got my hot little hands on The Drama Teacher by Koren Zailckas, on sale in August 2018.
The heroine of this psychologically complex novel is Gracie, a con man’s daughter and mom of two. Her whole life is a long con. (The book jacket also describes her as Randy’s wife, but he’s around for about five seconds before her life explodes so whatever.) Gracie isn’t really named Gracie, in fact, it might be her fourth or fifth name. Who’s keeping track?
Gracie thought she could settle into a bland, monied existence with the fantastically unimportant Randy, who makes a good living in real estate. Unfortunately for her, the market goes belly-up, along with her house. Randy-the-useless starts putting kilos of cocaine up his nose while their house of cards collapses around them. Gracie might have been out of the con game a while, but it’s clearly time to get creative.
She quickly befriends a lonely rich woman and starts running a con on her, claiming to be an architect who can add an extension to her house. Gracie needs just enough money to escape her marriage and run. Except one night, her mark dies. And it’s sort of Gracie’s fault.
From the first paragraph, Gracie’s story is a the psychological ride of a lifetime. She’s juggling twenty plates of deceit at any one time, always a moment away from the entire thing crashing down. But the thing about Gracie is she’s really good at her game. She neatly avoids any complications when she fakes three deaths – hers and her childrens’ – and disappears into Manhattan.
Except, five years later, living as Marianna, it all comes back to bite her. Not just her role in her old friend’s death, but the trauma and betrayal that set her down this path. Unfortunately, she’s not as willing as she’s always been to give up her new life and start over. She might even be in love with her newest mark…
The tension is thick in this not-quite-thriller. You’re not sure whether you’re rooting for Gracie or not – she’s as slippery as a character as she is as a conman. Like it or not, by the time the book ends, you understand her.
A tale with so many sides called for a wine with some complexity, and I stumbled upon the right candidate quite by accident. Loading up on rosé this week, I pulled Las Mulas Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé from the shelf. I basically picked it because it was a dark, deep pink. I’m a sucker for shiny things. (My best friend says I have the dream shoe collection of an 8-year-old girl, because glitter for DAYS.)
Somehow Las Mulas was fruity without being sweet, had just a hint of spice and heat, and a fuller body than any other rosé I’ve had. Definitely an auto-buy in future.
Be prepared to spend all night finishing The Drama Teacher, preferably with a glass of Las Mulas on hand. A combined total of ten stars for this pairing.