Woman Made Of Sand by Joanna Kobin

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"It never entered my mind that anyone in my husband's family would die," muses Harriet Stedman at the beginning of this wise and tender first novel-in-stories. On the day of the family patriarch's funeral, the hairline cracks in her marriage and life deepen as the hope for family unity recedes. If Harriet is anything, she is a truth-seeker, a compassionate woman who walks that uneasy line between love of her family and respect for her own vitality and desires. Imbued with unflinching honesty, and achingly human characters whose joys and sorrows are as real as our own, WOMAN MADE OF SAND is the exquisitely rendered story of Harriet, her husband Phillip, and their two children, whose lives flirt with dissolution but then rise through pain to a new wholeness.

This collection of stories spans several decades: from a summer in 1950 at the Jersey Shore in which the conflicts of an extended family are powerfully portrayed, to the present when it seems that the fate of three generations hang precariously on the outcome of a single ballet performance. On all fronts Joann Kobin is a master of subtlety and manages to find great poignancy and power in the finely observed moments when family members connect or fail to connect. Her fictions embrace and augment one another, at dance recitals, on the streets of Florence, the beaches of Cape Cod, at a college conference. The Stedmans drift apart and then come together, sometimes with grace, more often with uncertainty, determined to survive the heartaches of love.


About Joanna Kobin

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Joann Kobin's short fiction has appeared in the "New England Review," "Boston Review," "Ploughshares," and "Virginia Quarterly,
Published March 19, 2002 by Delphinium. 170 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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As an earlier story (“What I Learned from Clara”) shows, Harriet loves to dance and isn’t one to avoid a flirtation, not even when it leads to an outright affair while Phillip is away on business, after he’s moved with wife and kids far from his parents and started fresh.

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The grimly stoic Philip is best revealed in the title story, in which he builds a sand sculpture of a woman bearing a suspicious resemblance to Harriet, after he has remarried following the couple's divorce.

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