A wildly entertaining debut about a Brooklyn Heights wife and mother who has embezzled a small fortune from her children's private school and makes a run for it, leaving behind her trust fund poet husband, his maybe-secret lover, her two daughters, and a school board who will do anything to find her.
Marion Palm prefers not to think of herself as a thief but rather "a woman who embezzles." Over the years she has managed to steal $180,000 from her daughters' private school, money that has paid for European vacations, a Sub-Zero refrigerator, and perpetually unused state-of-the-art exercise equipment. But, now, when the school faces an audit, Marion pulls piles of rubber-banded cash from their basement hiding places and flees, leaving her family to grapple with the baffled detectives, the irate school board, and the mother-shaped hole in their house. Told from the points of view of Nathan, Marion's husband, heir to a long-diminished family fortune; Ginny, Marion's teenage daughter who falls helplessly in love at the slightest provocation; Jane, Marion's youngest who is obsessed with a missing person of her own; and Marion herself, on the lam--and hiding in plain sight.
Culliton's wonderful and sharp debut novel invites readers into the mind and motivations of an unlikable and remarkable woman. Marion has always lived on the cusp of poverty. She develops a talent for sticky fingers and doctoring numbers, assuring a respite from her despair. When Marion meets handsome, rich poet, Nathan Palm, she achieves a dream of financial security and stability. But reality is cruel and Nathan is not as wealthy as she thought, so Marion relies on her talents to support her family and the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Readers meet Marion on the day she abandons her family, headed on the run with $40,000 in a backpack. After years of embezzling funds from her daughters' private school, Marion has been sent into a panic by a proposed audit. She leaves her husband comically paralyzed, and her daughters, Ginny and Jane, deal with Marion's departure with angst, rage, and attachments to the imaginary. Culliton's prose is effortless and wickedly clever; its ability to condone and condemn in the most succinct way is a testament to the author's storytelling and characterization skills. Moments of empathy are erased by Marion's entitlement, and her vanishing act is curiously irresistible. This debut novel signals the arrival of an exciting talent.
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The description of this book had me hoping for something along the lines of Where'd You Go Bernadette... This story was slow and depressing without a single likable character. Not the upbeat, "wildly entertaining" story I was hoping for - just a boring book about two incredibly selfish parents.