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Today’s “Read A Book” review is of author, Susan Fales-Hill, and her debut novel, One Flight Up (Atria – July 2010; $25). The novel introduces readers to four long-time girlfriends whose history together goes back to their days in grade school at the prestigious Sibley School for Girls on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
India Chumley, Esq., Esme Sarmiento-Talbot, Abby Rosenfeld Adams, and Dr. Monique Dawkins-Dubois have grown up to be successful women who, on the outside, seem to lead the charmed lives about which many can only dream. Yet, lurking behind their thriving and lucrative careers, multi-level brownstones and dazzling wardrobes is a sea of discontent with their love lives. It is the four women’s quest for the ultimate satisfaction in love and sex that leads them each to go where good girls “fear to tread.”
Despite the fact that India, Esme, Abby and Monica live a lifestyle that seems worlds apart from most, readers will easily identify with each woman as she struggles to come to terms with love, life and the price of passion. Fales-Hill puts infidelity front and center in the story with the women as perpetrators rather than just victims. In so doing, she challenges readers, along with her characters, to ask important questions about their own feelings and desires. Against the backdrop of New York City at its more glamorous, One Flight Up is poised to be the must-have summer read that will have women buzzing everywhere, from the Hamptons to Martha’s Vineyard to South Beach to West Hollywood.
Susan Fales-Hill is an award-winning television writer and producer who has worked on shows ranging from The Cosby Show to Suddenly Susan. The author of the critically acclaimed Always Wear Joy, she is a contributing editor for Essence and has written for Vogue, Town & Country, and Travel & Leisure. A graduate of Harvard, Susan lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
I spoke with Susan Fales-Hill about her debut novel, as well as her inspiration and if any of her characters are “true-to-life.”
TD: What prompted you to write, One Flight Up?
SFH: I was inspired to write one flight up by the desire to deal with women’s struggle with fidelity in marriage (we have eyes too) and by the hormonal surge of middle age.
TD: Are the characters in your book based on your own real-life experiences, or actual persons you know?
SFH: Writing is always plagiarism from life. Most of the people in the book are composites of people I have known. Because it is a work of fiction, I didn’t have to worry about insulting and hurting people as I did with my memoir, I could explore the good, the bad, the ugly and the naughty.
TD: In writing, One Flight Up, did you experience any epiphanies or ‘Ah-ha’ moments that connected with your own life?
SFH: I experienced several epiphanies in the course of writing the book the first being “Just because you’ve read a lot of novels doesn’t mean you have the foggiest notion how to write one.” It was a humbling process to say the least. The book also helped me embrace the fact that if you are the child of passionate people, you will never be happy in a state of placid domesticity. You can try, but your true nature will rear its dramatic head. It’s like trying to pass for white if you’re not, the truth will out. The most challenging character to portray was the main character, India Chumley, because her background and emotional truth were closest to my own. It’s hard to get emotionally naked for your readers and show the imperfections beneath the armor of your perfectly tailored Chanel suit, but that’s my job as a writer.
TD: What do you want readers to take away from your novel?
SFH: I want my readers to have a joyous journey, to find perhaps the courage to embrace the questions and complexities of life and love. There is no recipe or formula for happiness in love or marriage, each person has to find his or her path. Let us live by the words of Maya Angelou who said “Because of our routines, we forget that life is an ongoing adventure.” Carpe Diem!!!!
We have five (5) copiesof Susan Fales-Hill’s novel, One Flight Up, to give-away to the first five persons who can accurately answer the following question:
“What is Bill Cosby’s real name?”
The first five persons to send an email with the correct answer will win a copy of One Flight Up. Please send your response to: firstname.lastname@example.org