A Small Indiscretion fixes an unflinching eye on the power of desire and the danger of obsession as it unfolds the story of one woman’s reckoning with a youthful mistake.
At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in her washed-out hometown for a London winter of drinking to oblivion and yearning for deliverance. Some two decades later, she is married to a good man and settled in San Francisco, with a son and two daughters and a successful career designing artistic interior lights. One June morning, a photograph arrives in her mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and threaten to overturn her family’s hard-won happiness.
The novel moves back and forth across time between San Francisco in the present and that distant winter in Europe. The two worlds converge and explode when the adult Annie returns to London seeking answers, her indiscretions come to light, and the phone rings with shocking news about her son. Now Annie must fight to save her family by piecing together the mystery of her past — the fateful collision of liberation and abandon and sexual desire that drew an invisible map of her future.
A Small Indiscretion is a riveting debut novel about a woman’s search for understanding and forgiveness, a taut exploration of a modern marriage, and of love — the kind that destroys, and the kind that redeems.
Jan Ellison is a graduate of Stanford University and San Francisco State University’s MFA Program. She has published award-winning short fiction, and was the recipient of a 2007 O. Henry Prize for her first story to appear in print. Her work has also been shortlisted for The Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize. She lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. A Small Indiscretion is her first book.
For more information please visit http://www.janellison.com and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter
“This voice is alive. It knows something. It will take us somewhere. The magic is accomplished so fast, so subtly, that most readers hardly notice… A Small Indiscretion is rich with suspense…astonishing … Delectable elements of this terrific first novel abound: Its characters are round and real…Ellison gives us an achingly physical sense of family life … Lovely writing guides us through, driven by a quiet generosity … This voice knows something, and by the end of the novel, so do we.” — San Francisco Chronicle, A&E, by Joan Frank
“The literary equivalent of a day spa: sink in, tune out, turn page, turn page, turn page. Delicious, lazy-day reading…just don’t underestimate the writing.”— Oprah’s Book Club Editor’s Pick, Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, by Leigh Newman
“An engrossing, believable, gracefully written family drama that reveals our past’s bare-knuckle grip on our present.” — Emma Donoghue, New York Times bestselling author of Room
“A stunning debut by Jan Ellison . . . Like the photograph that arrives in the mail and sets in motion the plot of this gorgeous novel, A Small Indiscretion reminds us of the intensity of youthful desire and of the fragile nature of a marriage built on secrecy.” — Ann Packer, New York Times bestselling author of The Dive from Clausen’s Pier
“It might be convenient if our mistakes would fade with time rather than hunt us down complete with consequence, but that wouldn’t make for the kind of taut, hypnotic story Jan Ellison tells. The impact of narrator Annie Black’s ‘small’ indiscretion is anything but, and in a brilliantly paced unraveling, Ellison makes vivid the sometimes tragic interplay of choice and fate, lust and love, youth and adulthood — which can bring its own mistakes. Absorbing, chilling, and moving, A Small Indiscretion is the debut of an elegant writer who will be known and admired from the start.” — Robin Black, author of Life Drawing
“An emotional thriller of the Anita Shreve variety, with revelations that continue and relationships that evolve until the final pages . . . Connoisseurs of domestic suspense will finish this book in a few breathless sittings, then wait eagerly for Ellison’s next trick.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“[A] cleverly constructed debut . . . a deftly crafted, absorbing novel that peels back the layers of Annie’s character as it reveals the secrets of her past and present.”
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Published by Random House
Hardcover: 336 pages
January 20, 2015; $27.00 US/ $32.00 CAN; 9780812995442