Cline, Rachel 1957-
CLINE, Rachel 1957-
Office—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
Novelist and freelance writer. Worked as a television writer, a movie industry secretary, an office temp, and a writer of corporate training materials.
What to Keep: A Novel, Random House (New York, NY), 2004.
Rachel Cline was determined not to follow in the unconventional and financially precarious footsteps of her parents. Her father, an architectural lighting designer, worked in a field that hardly existing during the 1960s, and her mother, a writer, earned distinction with the publication of Men Who Made a New Physics, a book about the development of quantum theory and atomic physics. However, recognizing her own desire to write at an early age, Cline majored in English at Oberlin College. After graduating, she worked menial jobs in the New York publishing industry before enrolling in Columbia's graduate film program and completing an M.F.A. in screenwriting.
Cline's first novel, What to Keep, revolves around the formative experiences of protagonist Denny Roman, a precocious girl from suburban Ohio whose divorced parents, both brilliant medical researchers, are emotionally absent. The novel is structured in three parts. The first centers upon Denny at age twelve as she is nurtured by her mother's secretary, Maureen. The second section is set some fifteen years later as Denny, a twenty-seven-year-old struggling actress, flies from Hollywood to Columbus to help her mother and new stepfather pack up and sell the family home. In the final section, set another decade forward, Denny is a New York playwright preparing for the premiere of her first Broadway show while reconnecting with her mother and caring for Maureen's adolescent son, Luke, who appears unexpectedly on her doorstep after Maureen's death.
Praised as a "smart and witty first novel" by Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson, What to Keep was well received by critics, many of whom appreciated Cline's well-formed characters and nuanced presentation of family dysfunction. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the work a "paradoxically tender first novel," drawing attention to Cline's "astute psychological insights and deadpan humor." Entertainment Weekly reviewer Jennifer Reese credited the success of "Rachel Cline's lovely, understated debut" to the novel's "smart, self-respecting heroine." Though noting that some readers might find fault in the novel's upbeat ending, Reese concluded, "This sparkling novel reads like a stubbornly particular and difficult life story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2004, Joanne Wilkinson, review of What to Keep: A Novel, p. 1035.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2004, review of What to Keep, p. 48.
Library Journal, March 15, 2004, Karen Traynor, review of What to Keep, p. 104.
People, May 10, 2004, Lori Gottlieb, review of What to Keep, p. 55.
Publishers Weekly, February 9, 2004, review of What to Keep, p. 54.
Rachel Cline Home Page,http://www.rachelcline.com (July 9, 2004).*