"I looked out the window and was filled with contentment. I was on a train. There was no landscape, ugly or beautiful, to demand my attention . . . None of the passengers within my view were badly dressed. I had the right book with me . . . I was happily married but alone, nothing in the immediate past to regret, nothing in the immediate future to fear. In between -- the best place to be."
At fifty, Grace Hanford has lived long enough to be a daughter, a stepdaughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a sister-in-law, a wife, a stepmother, and an orphan. She has fallen in and out of love -- with troublesome men, with her glamorous mother, with her wild best friend, and with New York City -- more times than she can count. Still, Grace is more comic than melancholic, and a gifted confessor. She lives life as if every day is a movie in which her role is yet to be determined -- and her audience loves her for it.
In The Best Place to Be, we follow Grace from her fatherless childhood through her years at an all-girls college to adulthood in the city and her many dating escapades (and escapes) as an urban sophisticate. Wherever she may be, Grace tries to find her place in the world with humor and the blunt surprise of truth. And always, in the background, there is Grace's mother, brother, and the man she could or might or will call husband, out of reach -- until she reaches.
In the tradition of Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, The Best Place to Be is at once funny, moving, and deeply provocative, a love letter to the self-determined woman that shimmers with hilarious insight and graceful wit.
"Lesley Dormen's funny, bittersweet tale is the knowing portrait of a particular yet archetypal modern woman caught between the demands of her family and her personal ambitions. What captivated me most, however, was the shadow portrait in these pages: a fine cameo of millennial New York, rendered with the same sly, satiric affection that Steve Martin lavished on Los Angeles in Shopgirl." -- Julia Glass, author of Three Junes and The Whole World Over
"Whether she's spending Thanksgiving in Rome watching reruns of the Kennedy assassination, trying to talk her mother out of her face-lift fund so she can pay down her credit card debt, interviewing marriage counselors in Starbucks, or trying to outsmart her larcenous housekeeper, Grace Hanford's life makes perfect postmodern sense. The Best Place to Be is smart, funny, and completely delightful; it's going to make a lot of readers very happy." -- Kathryn Harrison, author of Envy and The Kiss
"The Best Place to Be is a terrific debut. Smart, funny, wise, and altogether heartening. These linked stories read like dispatches from the front of modern womanhood. Lesley Dormen has crafted this book so carefully and elegantly that you might not notice how beautifully it's written. Notice. She's the real deal." -- Dani Shapiro, author of Family History and Black & White
"Dormen's stories are often delightfully, crushingly funny."
-- New York Times Book Review
"A journey that is smack-your-forehead familiar, and so crazily funny you could cry."
-- O Magazine
"Virginia Woolf meets Candace Bushnell in these funny, beautifully written linked stories."
-- Elle Reader's Prize Judge
"Dormen's...conversational short stories...read like the best kind of personal essays: dispatches from the (not all bad) front."
-- More Magazine
"As I calculate the weight of most current fiction, this [writing] tips the scales."
-- The Boston Globe