In Literacy and Longing in L.A., hailed as “the most delightful read of the year” by Liz Smith in the New York Post, authors Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack captivated readers with a brilliantly imagined first novel. Now Kaufman and Mack return, introducing a character with a unique voice you’ll never forget: Cassie Shaw, an irrepressible young woman who reinvents herself—with unexpected consequences—in a funny, wise, and utterly original novel about friendship, love, wildlife, and other forces of nature.
In the wilds of Topanga Canyon, Cassie is right at home—with the call of birds, the sound of wind in the trees, the harmony of a world without people. But everywhere else, life is a little harder for Cassie. Her mother believes in Big Foot. Her wisecracking pet parrot is a drama queen. And at the age of thirty, newly single and without a college degree, Cassie desperately needs a decent paycheck. Which is why, against all her principles, she lies on her résumé for an office job at an elite university—and then finds herself employed in academia by two professors who are as rare as the birds she covets.
One of her new bosses is Professor William Conner, a sexy, handsome, cheerfully aristocratic expert in animal behavior. Soon, under Conner’s charismatic tutelage, Cassie carefully begins her personal transformation while meeting the kind of people who don’t flock to wildlife preserves—from impossibly brilliant academics to adorably spoiled college boys. But her future—and unlikely new career—is teetering on one unbearable untruth. And Cassie’s masquerade is about to come undone…in a chain of events that will transform her life—and the lives of those around her—forever.
A novel for late bloomers of every exotic shade and stripe, A Version of the Truth is pure entertainment—at once hilarious and wry, lyrical and uplifting.
Cassie Shaw, the 30-year-old dyslexic high school dropout narrator of Kaufman and Mack's follow-up to Literacy and Longing in L.A., is devoid of self-esteem and, as the winsome novel opens, has just been widowed by a jerk who left her nothing but debt. Desperate for a job, Cassie fudges her education background on a job application and snags an entry-level university office job working under William Conner, a charismatic professor of animal behavior who ignites Cassie's desire for learning and other things. As Cassie's lust for knowledge swells and she becomes more involved with Conner, the list of her deceptions lengthens, and it's only a matter of time until budding beau Conner finds out. Kaufman and Mack lace the narrative with light humor (the rats in California's Topanga Canyon are like "roaches in NY or liars in LA") and nods to Emerson, Whitman, Thoreau, Plato and Keats. Delightfully merging humor, philosophy and reflections on nature, this novel is a lot of fun and might give some readers freshman-year flashbacks.