By Barbara Delinsky

(Knopf Doubleday, $25.95, 320 pages) 

Who is this author?

Barbara Delinsky has published a raft of best-selling books about marriage, parenthood and friendship. But while her name may be familiar, you probably did not know that it is not the one she was born with, which is Ruth Greenberg. Or that she also has written under the pseudonyms Bonnie Drake and Billie Douglass. Or that she lives in Newton, Mass., lost her mother to cancer and is a cancer survivor herself, is a kayaker and was once a newspaper photographer and writer.

Not that those things matter: what you really need to know is that Delinsky made the difficult jump from a writer of mass-market romance novels to an admired author of what Barnes & Noble calls “hardcover escapist fiction,”  books that appeals to women but never condescend to  readers, presenting complex plots and characters that hold their attention.

What is this book about?

“Escape” gives you the main point of its plot in its title. In it, Delinsky offers escapist fiction about a woman who actually does flee her overly busy, underly satisfying life – an impulsive move that just might reflect a fantasy of many of her readers.

Emily, a lawyer married to another lawyer, is drowning in details, obligations and work demands. Her husband, whom she loves dearly but sees too rarely, is similarly overwhelmed. One day, she just snaps, and takes off for a seaside New Hampshire town, Bell Valley, where, a decade earlier, she had found happiness, until her boyfriend, who was her best friend’s brother, dumped her. She has fence-mending to do with her ex-friend, and would you be surprised to learn that her former lover is back in town? Meanwhile, Emily’s husband is not giving up on her, and a legal case in Bell Valley has re-energized her lawyerly talents.

Why you’ll like it:

You could dismiss this as a mere “beach book,” but it has more going for it, such as interesting characters and a plot based on their relationships. Delinsky “gets” women and their concerns, and she is not afraid to explore a taboo subject: the secret desire some women have to just chuck it all and begin over. You might never act on such a fantasy, but it’s fascinating to read a story that shows what you might gain – and lose – if you were to do it. 

What others are saying:

“Best-selling author Delinsky’s… novel features a scenario many readers likely fantasize about, but it also has a protagonist whose actions may induce mixed feelings. While Emily puts her happiness first and escapes the life she no longer wants, her selfishness affects others, especially her husband. Ultimately, this thought-provoking book will be popular summer reading.” says Library Journal.

“Delinsky nails it in her trademark latest, a captivating and moving story about a woman who’s had enough of her life and wants a fresh start… Delinsky keeps the story moving with some nice twists on a familiar plot, rich characterizations, and real-feeling dilemmas that will keep readers hooked,” says Publishers Weekly.

“A soul-tugging romance by a proven master of the craft,” says a  Barnes & Noble review.

When is it available?

You can escape into the world of “Escape” now. Copies are available at the Downtown Hartford Public Library and Albany, Blue Hills, Camp Field, Dwight, Park and Ropkins branches.

Do you have something to say about this book, this author or books in general? Please post your comments here and I will respond. Let’s get a good books conversation going!

Oh. Oh. Back up. You’ll love this. When I was in high school, I was kicked out of Honors English because I couldn’t keep up! No, I never did go back to gloat. The truth is that though I came from a family of lawyers and never dreamed of publishing books, I did learn the basics of writing in high school, and, yeah, that skill has come in handy, too. 

Following graduate school, I worked as a researcher with the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and as a photographer and reporter for the Belmont Herald. I did the newspaper work after my first son was born. Since I was heavily into taking pictures of him, I worked for the paper to support that habit. Initially, I wrote only in a secondary capacity, to provide copy for the pictures I took. In time, I realized that I was better at writing than photography. I used both skills doing volunteer work for hospital groups, and have served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and on the MGH’s Women’s Cancer Advisory Board. 

I became an actual writer by fluke. My twins were four when, by chance, I happened on a newspaper article profiling three female writers. Intrigued, I spent three months researching, plotting, and writing my own book – and it sold. 

My niche? I write about the emotional crises that we face in our lives. Readers identify with my characters. They know them. They are them. I’m an everyday woman writing about everyday people facing not-so-everyday challenges. 

My novels are character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, and friendship, and I’ve been blessed in having readers who buy them eagerly enough to put them on the major bestseller lists. Family Tree was published in 2007, The Secret Between Us in 2008, While My Sister Sleeps in 2009, and Not My Daughter in 2010. My latest, Escape, is a 2011 publication.

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