The Done Thing

THE DONE THING
tracy manaster

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“Manaster (You Could Be Home by Now) has written a deeply human and morally saturated novel, with captivating language. Don’t miss this sympathetic examination of how a tragic incident can irrevocably change a life’s course.”
–Library Journal, Starred Review

 

DESCRIPTION

Lida Stearl prides herself on always knowing the most appropriate thing to do in any given situation, confidence that has served her well in building her career as an orthodontist, maintaining a happy marriage, and raising her young niece in the wake of a violent tragedy. But now she’s a widowed, retired, empty-nester and the small perfections of an orderly life are not quite enough to stop her from feeling adrift.

Then a well-intentioned birthday gift leads to the discovery that Clarence Lusk, on death row for the murder of Lida’s sister and preparing for his final appeal, is seeking pen-pals. Lida, furious, does not think he is entitled to any such consolations, and decides to teach him a lesson: she begins to write him, pretending to be naïve, twenty-three, and just the slightest bit flirtatious. As she accumulates details of Clarence’s life in prison and his connections outside it, her preoccupation with the crime and its echoes intensifies, unsettling those around her and jeopardizing her relationship with her beloved niece. When the date of Clarence’s clemency hearing is set and he begins to suspect there is something strange about his pen pal, Lida finds herself in danger of losing what little family remains to her.

In the tradition of such unforgettable characters as Olive Kittridge (Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout) or Nora Eldridge in The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, Lida is utterly memorable, sharp-edged and meddlesome, occasionally unpleasant, at times even venomous, but always deeply sympathetic and human.

PRAISE

“Manaster (You Could Be Home by Now) has written a deeply human and morally saturated novel, with captivating language. Don’t miss this sympathetic examination of how a tragic incident can irrevocably change a life’s course.”
–Library Journal, Starred Review

“The Done Thing” is a masterful example of what fiction can be… justice, compassion and forgiveness are the real main characters of this book, and readers will know them better by the story’s end.”
–The Desert News

“Lida Stearl is many things: a widow, a parent, a retired orthodontist, a proper St. Louis lady of a certain age, and hell-bent on making her sister’s killer’s final days on earth as unpleasant as possible. What begins as one woman’s obsessive, secret quest for revenge unfolds into a skillfully written exploration of forgiveness, family, loyalty, and justice. Tracy Manaster’s caustic yet tender second novel is a masterpiece.”
–Mo Daviau, author of Every Anxious Wave

“An intimate and emotionally-charged novel about a complex woman, haunted by her past losses, who becomes obsessed with making the last days of one man’s life as miserable as she possibly can. In her second book, Tracy Manaster writes with such care and empathy, as well as depth and detail, that readers will be eager to dive into Lida Stearl’s complicated life and discover for themselves how it all unravels.”
–Valerie Geary, author of Crooked River

“The Done Thing is a wonderfully engrossing novel — the unnerving and vividly-imagined tale of Lida Stearl, a charming widow who maintains her polite exterior although she’s quietly riven by grief and righteous fury. Tracy Manaster has written a novel that beguiles with its characters and its gripping story, but it also provides a rich investigation into what happens when we give space to our terrible little impulses, how these tiny monstrosities can grow and spread beyond our control.”
–Peter Mountford, author of The Dismal Science and A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism

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