PERSONAL: Daughter of James and Linda Benson. Education: Graduated from Princeton University, 2003.
ADDRESSES: Home—Boston, MA. Agent—c/o Alex Glass, Trident Media Group, 41 Madison Ave., 36th Fl., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer and educator. St. Marks School, Southborough, MA, English teacher, c. 2003–.
Two Harbors (novel), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
Author of stories published in Hawaii Review, Allegheny Review, and USA Weekend.
SIDELIGHTS: Kate Benson began writing her first novel, Two Harbors, for her senior thesis at Princeton University. Combining elements of gothic romance and mystery, the story takes place in the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota, and Hollywood, California. The central character is Casey Maywood, a young woman obsessed with the beauty-queen mother who abandoned her and her dad years ago to seek her fortune in Los Angeles. Lila was a vivacious blonde, beautiful but unstable, and now Casey has inherited those same good looks and the same desire to be an actress, even as she longs for her mother to return. When Casey's first real boyfriend, Dex, dies in a plane crash on the way from Minnesota back to his home in California, she is devastated. Persuaded by Dex's brother, Kevin, to attend Dex's funeral in Hollywood, Casey goes west, as much for a sense of closure over Dex as to search for her mother.
The novel's tale of lost love brought praise from critics. Carol Haggas, in Booklist, wrote that the story is "a sensitive psychological portrait" and describe Benson's style as "as passionate as it is precise." However, a writer for Kirkus Reviews took issue with the book's plot, calling it "contrived." The critic also noted that the tale of larger-than-life Hollywood types contains "moments of fine observation." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly also thought the resolution between Casey and her mother to be "unsubtle," but otherwise found the story of a woman untangling the mystery of her troubled mother's life "fluent" and "bittersweet."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2005, Carol Haggas, review of Two Harbors, p. 57.
Daily Princetonian, April 16, 2004, J.R. Delara, "Students Pen Creative Theses"; December 6, 2004, Jennifer Epstein, "Creative Writing Program Produces Aspiring Writers."
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2005, review of Two Harbors, p. 698.
Publishers Weekly, August 8, 2005, review of Two Harbors, p. 211.
St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 4, 2005, Mary Ann Grossmann, "Four Minnesotans Celebrating Publication of Their First Novels."