Cook, Claire 1955-

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Cook, Claire 1955-

PERSONAL:

Born 1955, in Alexandria, VA; married; children: two. Education: Graduated from Syracuse University (magna cum laude).

ADDRESSES:

Home—Scituate, MA. Agent—Lisa Bankoff, ICMÆ International Creative Management, Inc., 825 8th Ave., New York, NY 10019. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Montessori Community School, Scituate, MA, former teacher; has also worked as a landscape designer, a choreographer, and a continuity director for a radio station WPLM in Plymouth, MA. Former member of Cape Cod Writers Center.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Must Love Dogs was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, a BookSense pick in both hardcover and paperback, and a Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild selection.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Ready to Fall, Bridge Works Publishing (Bridgehampton, NY), 2000.

Must Love Dogs, Viking Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Multiple Choice, Viking Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Life's a Beach, Voice/Hyperion (New York, NY), 2007.

Also author of the Claire Cook Blog.

ADAPTATIONS:

Writer-director Gary David Goldberg adapted Must Love Dogs as a feature film for Warner Bros; Multiple Choice has been optioned for film by Working Title.

SIDELIGHTS:

Claire Cook was a veteran educator and a busy mother when she started writing in her forties. As she told Publishers Weekly interviewer Amy Boaz: "I taught for sixteen years, I had children, I did all those creative things, but I always had that nagging dream, and in my 40s, it hit me one day that this is midlife and I may never write a novel." Although, she told Boaz, "I just didn't know what my stories were yet," she began writing during her daughter's swimming practice. The result: several novels about women changing their lives, usually set in small Massachusetts coastal towns resembling Scituate, Cook's longtime home.

The protagonist of Ready to Fall, freelance researcher Beth Riordan, feels unappreciated by her husband and children; she finds an emotional outlet when she begins an email correspondence with her neighbor Thomas Marsh, an attractive travel writer. Beth's story is told through her emails; only a few of Thomas's replies are included, all early on in the novel. "The story isn't about Thomas," Cook told Cathy Corcoran, a reporter for the Quincy Patriot Ledger. "It's about Beth finding herself." Some of Beth's emails sum up Thomas's, an approach to the story that Dallas Morning News contributor Paula Friedman found "cumbersome." Friedman also considered the novel's ending to be "predictable" and abrupt, but nevertheless deemed Ready to Fall a "funny, quirky novel" that offers "much to enjoy." Orlando Sentinel contributor Sara Isaac called the book "quick and easy reading" with characters who have "honesty, sincerity and directness." Beth's "emotional journey," Isaac added, is "worth the ride."

Must Love Dogs is about a fortyish divorced woman looking for love through the personal ads. Sarah Hurlihy, a free-spirited schoolteacher obsessed with the television series The Brady Bunch, is not sure she wants a mate, but her sister places a personal ad for her. The sister also creates the tag line "Must Love Dogs," but Sarah has no dog and borrows one for her dates. Cook derives humor from these dates and from Sarah's eccentric family; on one date, she meets her widowed father. USA Today critic Ann Prichard thought Sarah's family too "self-consciously wacky," but nevertheless noted that the novel "makes bright, if light, summer reading." Washington Post reviewer S.V. Date found Cook "at her best" when dealing with the family relationships. The critic did comment that Cook "stumbles" when she has Sarah choose an inappropriate man, but praised the story overall, noting: "Readers will hope that Claire Cook will be telling breezy summer stories … for seasons to come."

In Multiple Choice March Monroe, a middle-aged mother who had quit college to get married, decides to complete her degree. She has classmates who are young enough to be her children, and she even ends up doing an internship with one of her children, Olivia. Meanwhile, her husband, Jeff, is not as supportive as March might wish. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "a low-wattage domestic comedy," while a Publishers Weekly commentator deemed it "warmed-over Erma Bombeck" while allowing that "Cook wrings some humor" from her tale. Booklist contributor Kaite Mediatore, however, found the book "sweet and humorous … with likable characters."

Cook's next book, Life's a Beach, was called an "enjoyable novel" by Curled up with a Good Book Web site contributor Marie Hashima Lofton. The story revolves around Ginger Walsh, an unemployed forty-one-year-old who is still living in a garage apartment at her parent's house. Ginger is dissatisfied with her life and especially her boyfriend, who won't commit to a more serious relationship. When a movie crew comes to town and Ginger's nephew is chosen as an extra for the film, Ginger volunteers to be his guardian on the horror movie set, where she meets a gaffer who promises real romance or at least to spur Ginger's boyfriend into commitment. In the meantime, Ginger's sister, Geri, is turning fifty and getting on Ginger's nerves with her complaints about growing old and her constant advice to Geri to improve her life. Referring to the book as a "lighthearted, breezy read," Rebecca Vnuk also wrote in the Library Journal that the author "displays a wry sense of humor and knows how to write realistic characters." Lofton wrote on the Curled up with a Good Book Web site: "Life's a Beach is funny, witty and, while lighthearted, does have a lot of depth. Ginger is a character readers will love."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, June 1, 2002, Kaite Mediatore, review of Must Love Dogs, p. 1680; July, 2004, Kaite Mediatore, review of Multiple Choice, p. 1816.

Dallas Morning News, August 6, 2000, Paula Friedman, "Tale of Cyberspace Romance Makes Connection," p. J9.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of Multiple Choice, p. 346.

Library Journal, June 15, 2002, Stacy Alesi, review of Must Love Dogs, p. 93; May 1, 2007, Rebecca Vnuk, review of Life's a Beach, p. 71.

Orlando Sentinel, May 9, 2000, Sara Isaac, "Zany Romp through Cyberlove Soars with Originality," p. E2; July 28, 2004, Rebecca Swain Vadnie, review of Multiple Choice.

Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA), April 22, 2000, Cathy Corcoran, "Scituate Writer ‘Ready to Fall’ into Success," p. 35.

Publishers Weekly, May 27, 2002, review of Must Love Dogs, p. 33; May 31, 2004, review of Multiple Choice, p. 49; July 26, 2004, Amy Boaz, "Successful Late Bloomer: Claire Cook," p. 33; April 30, 2007, review of Life's a Beach, p. 137.

USA Today, July 18, 2002, Ann Prichard, "Take ‘Dogs’ out for Walk around the Dating Scene," p. D4.

Washington Post, August 9, 2002, S.V. Date, "The Dating Game," p. C4.

ONLINE

Barnes & Noble.com,http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ (September 24, 2007), "Meet the Writer—Claire Cook."

BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (February 28, 2005), Amy Scribner, review of Must Love Dogs.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 28, 2005), Marie Hashima Lofton, review of Multiple Choice.

Claire Cook Home Page,http://www.clairecook.com (February 28, 2005).

Curled up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (September 24, 2007), Marie Hashima Lofton, review of Life's a Beach.

Film Bug,http://www.filmbug.com/ (September 24, 2007), brief biography of author.

Patriot Ledger Web site,http://www.patriotledger.com/ (July 9, 2005), Dana Barbuto, "Claire Cook's Social Life Is Booming."

RomanceReader.com,http://www.romancereader.com/ (February 28, 2005), Susan Scribner, review of Must Love Dogs.