A Small Indiscretion

A Small Indiscretion

3.56 (8,484 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.56 (8,484 ratings by Goodreads)

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the emotional complexity of Everything I Never Told You and the
psychological suspense of The Girl on the Train, O. Henry Prize winner Jan
Ellison delivers a brilliantly paced, beautifully written debut novel
about one woman's reckoning with a youthful mistake.

"Part psychological thriller, part character study . . . I peeled back the
pages of this book as fast as I could."-The Huffington Post

At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in a washed-out California
town for a London winter of drinking and abandon. Twenty years later, she
is a San Francisco lighting designer and happily married mother of three
who has put her reckless youth behind her. Then a photo from that distant
winter in Europe arrives inexplicably in her mailbox, and an old obsession
is awakened.

Past and present collide, Annie's marriage falters, and her son takes a
car ride that ends with his life hanging in the balance. Now Annie must
confront her own transgressions and fight for her family by untangling the
mysteries of the turbulent winter that drew an invisible map of her
future. Gripping, insightful, and lyrical, A Small Indiscretion announces
the arrival of a major new voice in literary suspense as it unfolds a
story of denial, passion, forgiveness-and the redemptive power of love.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 165 x 242 x 25mm | 590g
  • English
  • 0812995449
  • 9780812995442
  • 930,413

Review Text

Part psychological thriller, part character study . . . I peeled back the pages of this book as fast as I could. - The Huffington Post "[Jan] Ellison is a tantalizing storyteller, dropping delicious hints of foreshadowing and shifting back and forth in time, . . . moving her story forward with cinematic verve. . . . [She] masterfully captures the confusing and powerful moment when a young woman realizes her effect on men. Compellingly sympathetic characters bring the London chapter of Annie's story to dramatic life. If you are clinging to a stash of letters and ticket stubs from old lovers, Indiscretion may have you rethinking the cost of holding on to the past rather than basking in the virtues of the present." - USA Today"Astonishing . . . This voice is alive. It knows something. It will take us somewhere. The magic is accomplished so fast, so subtly, that most readers hardly notice. . . . A Small Indiscretion is rich with suspense. . . . Delectable elements of this terrific first novel abound: Its characters are round and real. . . . Ellison gives us an achingly physical sense of family life. . . . Lovely writing guides us through, driven by a quiet generosity. . . . This voice knows something, and by the end of the novel, so do we." - San Francisco Chronicle (Book Club pick)"Delicious, lazy-day reading. Just don't underestimate the writing. Ellison describes her various love triangles in lavish prose. . . . The real strengths of this novel are the foggy, intimate flashbacks that so perfectly capture the sexual and romantic confusion of a young woman in a foreign land." -Leigh Newman, O: The Oprah Magazine (Editor's Pick)"Rich and detailed . . . The plot explodes delightfully, with suspense and a few twists. Using second-person narration and hypnotic prose, Ellison's debut novel is both juicy and beautifully written. How do I know it's juicy? A stranger started reading it over my shoulder on the New York City subway, and told me he was sorry that I was turning the pages too quickly." - Flavorwire"Are those wild college days ever really behind you? Happily married Annie finds out." - Cosmopolitan"An impressive fiction debut . . . both a psychological mystery and a study of the divide between desire and duty." - San Jose Mercury News"A novel to tear through on a plane ride or on the beach . . . I was drawn into a web of secrets, a world of unrequited love and youthful mistakes that feel heightened and more romantic on the cold winter streets of London, Paris, and Ireland." - Bustle"Annie Black is a flawed heroine whose impulses we may distrust, but whose voice is compelling, drawing us in with her ruminating self-awareness and lively observations of those around her. . . . Ellison renders the California landscape with stunning clarity. . . . She writes gracefully, with moments of startling insight. . . . Her first novel is an emotional thriller, skillfully plotted in taut, visual scenes. The stakes are high from the start. . . . As Ellison pulls the thread that unravels the past, she weaves a rich tapestry of memory and desire, secrets and omissions, and exposes the knotted wages of love. . . . A Small Indiscretion resolves in an astonishing plot twist that offers both destruction and self-discovery." - The Rumpus "To read A Small Indiscretion is to eat fudge before dinner: slightly decadent behavior, highly caloric, and extremely satisfying. . . . An emotional detective story that . . . mirrors real life in ways that surprise and inspire." - New York Journal of Books "If you liked Gone Girl for its suspenseful look inside the psychology of a bad marriage, try A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison. . . . It touches many of the same nerves." - StyleCaster
"A great book club selection . . . both suspenseful and literary . . . [with] topics like love, obsession, betrayal, forgiveness, marriage, and second chances that make it interesting to dissect." - Booking Mama "How Ellison interweaves the myster
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Review quote

Advance praise for "A Small Indiscretion
"An engrossing, believable, gracefully written family drama that reveals our past's bare-knuckle grip on our present."--Emma Donoghue, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Room"
" "
"A stunning debut by Jan Ellison . . . Like the photograph that arrives in the mail and sets in motion the plot of this gorgeous novel, "A Small Indiscretion" reminds us of the intensity of youthful desire and of the fragile nature of a marriage built on secrecy."--Ann Packer, "New York Times "bestselling author of "The Dive from Clausen's Pier"
"It might be convenient if our mistakes would fade with time rather than hunt us down complete with consequence, but that wouldn't make for the kind of taut, hypnotic story Jan Ellison tells. The impact of narrator Annie Black's 'small' indiscretion is anything but, and in a brilliantly paced unraveling, Ellison makes vivid the sometimes tragic interplay of choice and fate, lust and love, youth and adulthood--which can bring its own mistakes. Absorbing, chilling, and moving, "A Small Indiscretion" is the debut of an elegant writer who will be known and admired from the start."--Robin Black, author of "Life Drawing
"An emotional thriller of the Anita Shreve variety, with revelations that continue and relationships that evolve until the final pages . . . Connoisseurs of domestic suspense will finish this book in a few breathless sittings, then wait eagerly for Ellison's next trick.""--Kirkus Reviews"
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"[A] cleverly constructed debut . . . a deftly crafted, absorbing novel that peels back the layers of Annie's character as it reveals the secrets of her past and present."--"Booklist"
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About Jan Ellison

Jan Ellison is a graduate of Stanford University and San Francisco State University's MFA Program. She has published award-winning short fiction, and was the recipient of a 2007 O. Henry Prize for her first story to appear in print. Her work has also been shortlisted for `Best American Short Stories` and the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. `A Small Indiscretion` is her first book.
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Rating details

3.56 out of 5 stars
- 8,484 ratings
5 15% (1,301)
4 39% (3,316)
3 34% (2,888)
2 9% (793)
1 2% (186)
Book ratings by Goodreads
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