A Newspaper Novel

I recently finished Katherine Ashenburg’s novel, Her Turn, & highly recommend it. It has the breezy tone of chick lit but there the comparison ends. It’s beautifully crafted & much deeper & more nuanced. Liz, the journalist and single-mom protoganist, is in her 40s, seems to have it together but, as the onion skins are peeled away, she clearly doesn’t.

My particular delight: it’s set in a metropolitan newspaper where Liz edits a section that publishes personal essays contributed by readers (think The Globe & Mail’s “First Person” feature). All the journalism details ring absolutely true. The religion beat is a graveyard where lost reporters are sent, although Liz rationalizes all the good stories she could write if she is banished there. I love the fact that she’s having an affair with her publisher, a married man so expert at infidelity that he uses a burner phone to contact her.

A key plot point comes when Liz receives an essay from an aspiring writer who happens to be the younger woman for whom Liz’s husband left her. Don’t touch that essay, I thought, even knowing that Liz would do just that.