By Victoria Redel
Before Everything is an ode to friendship for readers of Anne Tyler and Ann Patchett, full of dry humour, quiet wisdom and huge empathy.
'At once tough and tender, funny and sad, this beautifully written novel articulates the dynamic realities of those wondrous friendships that last a lifetime.' (Siri Hustvedt)
Anna, Molly, Ming, Caroline, Helen: the Old Friends.
Since adopting their official name aged eleven, they have seen each other through careers, children, illnesses, marriage, divorce, addiction, fame, fall outs.
But now, Anna - fiercely loved mother and friend, and the Old Friends' glue - is diagnosed with cancer again, and this time, tired of recoveries and relapses, pitying looks and exhausting regimes, she simply says: no more.
As her health declines, the politics of the still lived-in world merge with memories of the past while each Old Friend tries to accept the truth of what is happening: they are losing someone they cannot imagine life without.
Before Everything is a celebration of friendship and love between a group of wonderful women.
End of sixth grade they made it their official name. It was a joke one afternoon but they liked the way it sounded. Permanent. The Old Friends. This way, the five girls agree, it's just a fact. And ours forever.
Victoria Redel was born in New York, and attended Dartmouth College and Columbia University. Her work has appeared in numerous magazines including Granta, Harvard Review, Elle and The New York Times, and she currently teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. Her debut novel, Loverboy, was adapted for a feature film directed by Kevin Bacon. Before Everything is her first novel to be published in the UK.
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- Publication date:
06 Jul 2017
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Before Everything turns on the grand themes, love and death. Redel's elegant narration unfolds not in linear time but in the time of memory, moving among the friends to reveal their shifting connections, needs, and circumstances. At once tough and tender, funny and sad, this beautifully written novel articulates the dynamic realities of those wondrous friendships that last a lifetime. — Siri Hustvedt
Before Everything is a riveting, timely story that explores the unsettlingly beautiful, emotionally charged landscape that is revealed when old friends embrace what they have never before admitted: the limits of mortality and the boundlessness of friendship. — Ruth Ozeki
Gorgeous, a heartbreaker, a non-stop dazzler, a major achievement. — Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Hours
Victoria Redel bears witness to a remarkable group of women, effortlessly weaving back and forth through time, each thread revealing the cracks and secrets of their complex lives, while also drawing them closer. . . . Redel proves that female friendship is the quiet, steady engine that truly runs the world. — Hannah Tinti, author of The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
I admire Victoria Redel's work for so many reasons-for its fearlessness, its complexity, its beauty-and Before Everything is one of the most brilliant, radiant, and heartbreaking books I've read in years. Redel's characters-fierce and funny, loyal and compassionate-feel as real and beloved as the people we hold dearest in our own lives. An extraordinary novel by one of the best writers we have. — Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans
A touching story of friendship and loss . . . richly realized. The result is an unflinching and affecting look at how one woman's final days change the lives of those around her. — Publishers Weekly
Redel has crafted a lyrical ode to female friendship, proving that bonds can somehow be made of iron and elastic, sometimes strong and sometimes frail. She fleshes out the five main characters admirably for such a short book, linking each of their most vulnerable memories to their shared crisis. Fans of Anne Tyler and Jennifer Close will adore this warmhearted and clear-eyed novel. — Booklist