by Tammy Hepps

Honest and Happy?

Imagine a book about books. Imagine reading about reading. And then you will begin to appreciate Rachel Kadish’s new novel, Tolstoy Lied {Houghton Mifflin, $24). Kadish’s story is narrated by Tracy Farber—Jewish, single, thirty something, and a professor of American literature whose views on love stem more from her reading than from her life experience. In her academic life, Tracy is struggling to prove a thesis that becomes personally relevant as well: can a story, her story, have an ending that’s “both honest and happy”? Was Tolstoy accurate when he wrote that “all happy families are alike”—or can happiness be as interesting as unhappiness?

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