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August 30 , 2009

Sick and Full of Burning


Is there any hope for a hypereducated thirty-year-old med student who would like nothing better than to be taken seriously sexually? That's what Mary "Tennessee" Settleworth, the dislocated heroine of this unsettling and wryly comic first novel, is wondering.

Tennessee, a native of Knoxville, is an all-around heretic: a Southerner who's happier up North; a Christian who favors Pelagius and free will over Augustine and original sin; a lady of urgent passions who has had no carnal engagements for a year. She has finally gone so far as to write for a men's magazine an article titled "Sexual Inmates: A Cellular Study." Before it is published, however, she enters the employ and the household of one Lulu Cameron Carlisle - a whining and possessive but philanthropic Park Avenue widow who has a fine suicidal flair for pot, heavy tranquilizers, and smoking in bed - and her lame fourteen-year-old daughter, who needs a governess. All three women are badly in need of a compassionate friend - preferably human and male - who is willing and most of all able to soothe both spirit and flesh.

"A just about perfect first novel - bright, sassy, sad, and with talent, well, to burn," said Kirkus (starred review).
Publisher's Weekly said that "what critics find so lacking in much feminist literature - humor, satire, genuine pathos - this literate novel about a young woman consistently displays."
The Chicago Tribune Book World exclaimed, "A flawless first novel? You gotta be kidding! No kidding."
And John Barkham, writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer, announced, "Ms. Cherry writes like a whiz."

BOSON BOOKS also offers In The Wink of an Eye and The Woman Who by Kelly Cherry. For an author bio and photo, reviews, and a reading sample, visit
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