Grace Dane Mazur
The Garden Party:
This event includes a book signing
July 11, 2018
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes writer, artist, and biologist GRACE DANE MAZUR—author of Trespass: A Novel, Silk: Stories, and Hinges: Meditations on the Portals of the Imagination—for a discussion of her latest novel, The Garden Party.
About The Garden Party
The Cohens are wildly impractical intellectuals—academics, activists, and artists. The Barlows are Wall Street Journal–reading lawyers steeped in trusts and copyrights, golf and tennis. The two families are reserved with and wary of each other, but tonight, the evening before the wedding that is supposed to unite them, they will attempt to set aside their differences over dinner in the garden.
As Celia Cohen, the eminent literary critic, sets the table, her husband, Pindar, would much rather be translating ancient recipes for his Babylonian cookbook than hosting this rehearsal dinner. Meanwhile, their son, Adam, the poet (and nervous groom), wonders if there is still time to simply elope. One of Adam’s sisters, Naomi, a passionate but fragile social activist, refuses to leave her room, while Sara, scorpion biologist turned folklore writer, sits up on the roof mourning an imminent breakup. And Pindar’s elderly mother, Leah, witnesses everything, weaving old memories into the present.
The lawyers are early: patriarch Stephen Barlow and his bespangled wife, Philippa, who specializes in estates, along with Philippa’s father, Nathan, hobbled by age and Lyme disease. Then come the Barlow sons William (war crimes), Cameron (intellectual property), and Barnes (the prosecutor), each with desperate wife and precocious offspring. How could their younger siblings—Eliza, the bride, an aspiring veterinarian, and her twin brother, Harry, recently expelled from divinity school—have issued from such a family?
Up and down the dinner table, with its twenty-four (or is it twenty-five?) guests, unions are forming and dissolving while Pindar is trying to figure out whether time is really shaped like baklava, and off in the surrounding forest with its ancient pond different sorts of mischief will lead to a complicated series of fiascoes and miracles before the party is over. Set over the course of a single day and night, Grace Dane Mazur’s brilliantly observed novel weaves an irresistible portrayal of miscommunication, secrets, and the power of love.
“The Garden Party is a beautiful and compelling story of love in all its prismatic colours. Grace Dane Mazur is that rare writer who makes domesticity alluring even as she brilliantly presents its dangers and complexity in sharp, tart language that is so enjoyable to read. Lightness, darkness, longing: all skillfully contained here. I loved this book, for it reminded me of the pleasure that reading a good book can bring and the sadness that comes over me when I am done.” —Jamaica Kincaid
“In her feast of a novel, delicious with secrets and longings and the mischief of both angels and demons, Grace Dane Mazur gives the reader the best seat at the table on a most fateful night. As two families stumble toward union, playing their various parts, only we can see into each of their hearts and minds, learning—thrillingly—what they mean to each other, and what’s been left behind.” —Christopher Castellani
“This vital novel offers delicious echoes of Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster and a touch of A Midsummer Night’s Dream—but its magic is unique. The Garden Party is beautiful and full of life.” —Claire Messud
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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