• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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A Lot of Nice Things Turn Bad Out There

When I was an editor at Doubleday, there was this really cool assistant down the hall who I heard was leaving publishing to get her MFA at Cornell. Hmmm. Most people who bailed were headed to law school. Some years later she got in touch. She had just finished a novel. Would I take a look? I was touched she remembered me, but I was also wary. MFA novel: this could get ugly. INSTEAD, please check out THE BARTER by Siobhan Adcock. Is it a ghost story? Sort of. Will you stay up all night reading? Definitely. Plus, Siobhan is still really cool, and by that a mean her discipline is as finely honed as her talent. A writer to watch for. Congrats, Siobhan!
Oh, one more thing. I’m giving away three copies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize. What is the scariest book you’ve ever read and why? Contest ends on Halloween. I hope Siobhan will judge.
“Adcock makes excellent sport of the culture of modern middle-class parenting. We see her [Bridget] measuring her old, trivial anxieties against this huge new thing, this fear, as she begins to realize that what you’re afraid of is part of who you are. The Barter is a thoughtful and surprisingly witty novel. It weights its horrors precisely.” — Terrence Rafferty, New York Times
 “A good, old-fashioned ghost story that will make you jump when your walls creak…her thoughtful story will keep readers reflecting on its themes once the shivers have passed.”  –BookPage

“A suspenseful and thrilling ghost story about two women, separated by 100 years, who are bound by a haunting secret coined from the obscurities of motherhood and marriage. You won’t be able to put this haunting love story down and you might even be afraid of the dark after this chilling read.” –Buzzfeed“With lush language that provides contrast to the gripping plot, Adcock’s debut novel weaves two tragic love stories into one tense and provocative tale of love, fear and personal ordeal.” –Working Mother

“Haunting . . . You’ll slow down through the gorgeous language, but speed up to find out what happens in the explosive, fast-paced plot.” –Shape.com

“A thriller about two mothers . . . as the women learn, happiness can also be mysterious, and even love can sometimes be disguised as a threat.” –Shelf Awareness

“Eerie and atmospheric, this psychological thriller will twist its way into readers’ psyches.”Booklist

25 Responses

  1. Congrats Siobhan!

    The most horrifying book I ever read was a used bookstore paperback copy of Rosemary’s Baby. I read it in one night, alone as a teenager, babysitting my toddler-age siblings.

    The title page had been ripped out, leaving a ragged edge where there should have been some official start, and line after line of the book had been highlighted. The highlighting was brief at first, maybe one line a page a the beginning, but grew more frequently as the story unfolded.

    By the end, when Rosemary figures out what the fuck is going on, the highlighting had turned into red-inked underlined passages – some with exclamation marks down the inside margins.

    The whole thing was terrifying – the story, the red ink, and the psycho who used the book as a text book before I got a hold of it.

  2. Congratulations Siobhanq- what an accomplishment!

    The scariest book I’ve ever read was Pet Cemetary. I read it in one night when I was twelve and home alone overnight for the first time ever. I have a little brother who was four at the time who’s name is Gage- the same name as the little boy in the book.

    I finished the book at around 4:30 in the morning. I was nearly unable to make the walk from the couch to my bedroom. I was certain that that my brother had died, come back to life, and was waiting for me in a dark corner of the room- with a scalpel in his hand.

  3. Scariest: The Road. Every time I read it, I have to remind myself that if the bacteria go, we do, so I don’t have to lay in quik n easy ways to commit suicide stat. But then I think it could also be a rapture novel, which is even more scary, coming from McCarthy, and because the idea of McCarthy seriously entertaining the existence of the rapture is a violation of all that I hold holy (e.g. great lit). Maybe all truly scary books have to violate something we hold holy.

  4. The scariest book I ever read was Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi because it brought back all those horrible Manson Family memories. I grew up forty miles from the Sharon Tate residence. I never finished the last fifty pages because I dreamt about the murders for two nights; in the second dream, I was standing outside the residence at the gate. I instinctively knew something evil was happening. I froze for several minutes and then I ran from the gate.

    When I awoke, I got the book and threw it away. I was never affected before or since in the same manner.

    Henry Porter Miami, Oklahoma

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Lonnie, HELTER SKELTER had me convinced that a Mansion follower would see me reading the book and I would become a victim. I too threw my book away. Evidence gone, I felt relieved they would pass me by.

  5. The Guns of August

    because they should not have done what they did
    and they knew not what they were doing
    though they knew they should not be doing it
    and they could not stop themselves

    and they should have known better
    and we live now still
    in the wreckage they long ago left us

  6. Congratulations Siobhan!

    Several books come to mind, but, HOUSE OF DARKNESS, HOUSE OF LIGHT, by Andrea Perron, is her memoir about her family’s encounter with evil. Two volumes are completed and the third is coming out soon. If you aren’t familiar with the title, their story was turned into the movie THE CONJURING.

    It’s about a beautiful, ancient farm house that captures the heart of a family, a husband, wife, five girls. They move in. Eventually, a presence known as Bathsheba makes itself known. Ed and Lorraine Warren were contacted to investigate and considered it the most compelling case out of all their paranormal research.

    This story frightens me because it is true. What could be more horrifying than to read a book, all the while knowing the seemingly impossible things you are reading about actually happened, like a nightmare you can’t wake up from?

  7. The scariest book I ever read was The Shining. In its scariest moments, i squeezed my eyes shut tight to keep out the chills, barely lifting a lid to peak at the next words. Amused at my behavior, I asked myself, “why so scared?” I realized Jack Torrance is everywhere.

  8. The Exorcist, hands down. In fact, I just re-read it to see if it was as scary as I remembered it and to see if I could pick up any writing tips. The way Blatty builds up the suspense is masterful. An 11-year-old girl, possessed by the devil? Every mother’s nightmare.

  9. Alas, I can’t participate in this contest because I have never read a scary book. Never. I am a wimp. I shield my eyes from bloodshed on the screen. I cannot tolerate disfigurement (even Lady Gaga’s weird ears.) Evidently, I am missing the scary gene. However, I am going to grow up now. I am going to read Siobhan”s book for scary starters! And see what I’ve been missing…

  10. The above anon was me. I’m not so wimpy that I can’t openly own up…Just forget to fill in the blanks.

  11. The Stand, when I was sixteen, it stuck with me and influenced much of how saw the world.

  12. Congratulations to Siobhan Adcock! I like the story behind the story, too.
    “The Other” by Thomas Tryon was pretty scary. I read it when I was about 13 or 14 and the part where the twin(?) jumps from the hayloft into a pile of hay that had a well positioned, concealed, pointy end up pitchfork in it creeped me right the fuck out.
    Another book that disturbs me still is “What We Don’t Know About Children” by Simona Vinci. I read it after hearing an NPR report on the book. I’m kind of glad I read it because it reinforces my hyperawareness of keeping track of my childs’ activities (how to be aware but not overprotective???), but that little book scared me more than a roomful of hungry zombies and an empty plate of finger food.

  13. “about two women, separated by 100 years, who are bound by a haunting secret coined from the obscurities of motherhood and marriage.”

    I’m an opera fan. One can hope for incest and infanticide. One can hope.

  14. Siobhan, Congratulations! I had a professor who studied for her doctorate at Cornell. She would tell us nothing short of horror stories about what she had to do to get her doctorate. The sheer volume of literature that you were expected to have read and process was terrifying to me.

    Every year we went to South Carolina during Easter to visit my mother’s family. My grandmother’s house was set back from the road about a mile. My family down there are all farmers and the smell you got the second we opened the car door after a 12 hour drive was of sand and pine.
    The houses were miles apart and for a good ten square miles, the only people around are ones you’re related to. Coming from upstate New York, in the Hudson Valley, the landscape, the flatness unnerved me a bit. The quiet unnerved me. The dry, scratchy grass hurt to walk on.
    I was the only kid my age, and was always off somewhere with my head in a book.
    That year, the year I was thirteen, I had brought Stephen King. In April, in the south, they get a great deal of heat lightning. My room at my grandmother’s house was called the sunroom. It was up on the second floor and was surrounded by windows on three sides. The wall connected to the house was clapboard with a door that looked out to the staircase.
    I was reading Salem’s Lot one night when the heat lightning began. There was only one tree in the center of the mile long front yard, a three-story high pecan tree. Every time the lightning flashed, the pecan tree would be illuminated for a moment and then sink back into pitch blackness. I kept reading. Vampires flew up to windows in the book. The lightning flashed again and I could swear I saw the top of a head outside my second story window. Then nothing but black. The wind picked up and the old windows rattled behind me. I’d turn around quickly, but could see nothing until the light flashed again. Then, the pecan tree, the rattling windows, the shadow of a head from the corner of my eye. First at the windows at my feet, then to my left side, then behind me. I couldn’t stop reading. I couldn’t leave my bed. I was certain, absolutely certain I wouldn’t make it through the night.

    Thirty years later and I still remember seeing the tops of heads outside of those windows.

  15. The words on the cover said it was true, I believed them.
    As the crow flies, (an apt bird), it was ten miles away, (too close). AMITYVILLE HORROR taught me that terror can happen to regular people. I read that book with every light on in my apartment and with my Princess phone in my lap. We didn’t have 911 then but I had mom and dad living one floor up. They believed too.

    Congratulations Siobhan. We all need a good shiver now and then.

  16. Congratulations, Siobhan! I saw your book at Barnes & Noble yesterday and already bought it — it was the first book in “New Fiction” on the very top shelf, and I picked it up based solely on the cover and reading the first few pages. Looking forward to the read. Cheers to you.

  17. Congrats Siobhan. This looks like a very cool book. Win or lose, I’m gonna read it some cold, windy, dark winter’s night.

    The scariest stories for me were back in high school by Edgar Allen Poe, namely “The Black Cat” and “The Tell Tale Heart.” “The Tell Tale Heart” became a weird kind of moral compass for this bad ass, shoplifting 14-year-old. The image of Guilt as a character in your life, a force you could not shake, scared the crap out of me. I’ve been a good girl on numerous occasions becausel of this story.

  18. Since a ghost IS a resident in my house, I stay away from the traditional scary books – I’m living it. On the other hand, the paranormal/fantasy/erotica novel someone thought I should read was quite a horrific experience. Will that count in the contest? Not only was the plot premise frighteningly ridiculous, I’ve been haunted with the knowledge that a publishing house paid that author while I’m still sending out queries.

    • Karen! Would an EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! be appropriate about now? I’m fascinated by the paranormal, but have sort of “learned” it’s best not to spend too much time Googling about those things. It seems to be an invitation for weird stuff to happen. Your experiences would be interesting to read – I think?.

  19. My first choice would be The Shinning. It’s the only book I’ve ever read that scared the crap out of me, but as someone already mentioned it, I will say The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson, a classic horror story, if ever there was one.

    Congradulations to Siobhan.

  20. I could add my name to the list of people who’ve been scared paranoid by Stephen King (his human monsters are so much worse than his supernatural ones, I think, though that doesn’t matter when you’re reading “The Boogeyman”, unaware that you accidentally shut the cat in the closet . . . for now), but as a lifelong hypochondriac, I have to go with Hot Zone, which i read when it first came out.

    This answer might well have been influenced by recent events, so if you’d like to check back with me after the Zombie/Vampire/Standard Armageddon Apocalypse, I’d be happy to reconsider.

  21. THE BARTER looks like something I would love to read!
    The scariest *book* I’ve ever read? And why? Oh, man. I’m listing my favorites which are more probably in the psychological thriller, suspense category.

    INTENSITY (novel) by D. Koontz because it freaked me out and almost gave me a heart attack…repeatedly! I read the thoughts of a madman and felt for the protagonist.

    TURN OF THE SCREW (novella) by Henry James because it messed with my head and made me paranoid.

    “The Pond” story by Patricia Highsmith because it drew me in to the world of a normal seeming woman and slowly showed the dark, evil heart within.

    “Stone Head” story by Adam Golaski which I read years ago and still cannot get out of my head. It gives me nightmares and daymares.

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