The Underside of Joy

The Underside of Joy

3.74 (2,263 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$25.96

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks

Description

Set against the backdrop of Redwood forests and shimmering vineyards, Sere Prince Halverson's compelling debut tells the story of two women, bound by an unspeakable loss, who each claims to be the mother of the same two children. To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the northern California river town of Elbow with her husband, Joe, and his two young children. Yet one summer day Joe breaks his own rule-"never turn your back on the ocean"-and a sleeper wave strikes him down, drowning not only the man but his many secrets.For three years, Ella has been the only mother the kids have known and has believed that their biological mother, Paige, abandoned them. But when Paige shows up at the funeral, intent on reclaiming the children, Ella soon realizes there may be more to Paige and Joe's story. "Ella's the best thing that's happened to this family," say her close-knit Italian-American in-laws, for generations the proprietors of a local market. But their devotion quickly falters when the custody fight between mother and stepmother urgently and powerfully collides with Ella's quest for truth."The Underside of Joy" is not a fairy-tale version of stepmotherhood pitting good Ella against evil Paige, but an exploration of the complex relationship of two mothers. Their conflict uncovers a map of scars-both physical and emotional-to the families' deeply buried tragedies, including Italian internment camps during World War II and postpartum psychosis.Weaving a rich fictional tapestry abundantly alive with the glorious natural beauty of the novel's setting, Halverson is a captivating guide through the flora and fauna of human emotion-grief and anger, shame and forgiveness, happiness and its shadow complement . . . the underside of joy.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 307 pages
  • 157.48 x 226.06 x 30.48mm | 317.51g
  • Dutton Books
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 0525952594
  • 9780525952596
  • 1,016,961

Review quote

"Searingly smart and exquisitely written, Halverson's knockout debut limns family, marriage and a custody battle in a way that gets under your skin and leaves you changed. To say I loved this book would be an understatement." -Caroline Leavitt, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Pictures of You"show more

About Sere Prince Halverson

SERe PRINCE HALVERSON lives in northern California and worked as a freelance copywriter for twenty years while she wrote fiction. She and her husband have four grown children. She is a mom and a stepmom, and grew up with a mom and a stepmom. This is her debut novel.show more

Rating details

2,263 ratings
3.74 out of 5 stars
5 22% (498)
4 41% (920)
3 29% (647)
2 7% (163)
1 2% (35)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X