PERSONAL: Married; children.
The Gazebo, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1999.
The Observatory, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2000.
The Fountain, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2001.
Waterloo Station: A Novel, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.
Night Train to Lisbon, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Emily Grayson's debut novel, The Gazebo, is a story of a fifty-year love affair between two people who never married but who meet every May 27 at the town's gazebo. Booklist's Alexandra Shrake wrote that this "gracefully written novel paints a vivid picture of young love and its strength to bind two hearts across both distance and time." Wealthy Martin Rayfiel and Claire Swift, from a poor family, fell in love decades earlier and fled to Europe to escape familial disapproval. But Claire was called back to care for her ailing mother, and Martin's family lost their fortune. They each married other partners, but continued their yearly tradition, the details of which Martin shares with Abby Reston, editor of the town newspaper. Abby is less than enthusiastic, but when she shows up at the gazebo on the appointed day, she finds not the couple, but a briefcase full of letters and other mementos and Martin's taped narrative.
Romance Reader's Susan Scribner reviewed both The Gazebo and The Observatory, noting that both stories take place in Longwood Falls, New York and the plot of the second novel is "more melodramatic." In The Observatory, Harper and Liz Mallory are twins who have never been close. Harper left Longwood Falls and became a successful artist. Liz stayed home to care for their parents and become the town librarian, and now she lives alone in the family house. When Harper's daughter dies in an accident, Liz moves into her mansion on Long Island to care for her son, Nick, while Harper tries to escape her grief on a remote island. Liz meets Nick's teacher, amateur astronomer David Fields, and they begin a romance, but when Harper returns, Liz learns that she and David had once had a relationship, and she returns home to the dull but nice guy who has been waiting for her. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Grayson "has a gift for capturing how relationships begin and develop and a sympathetically attuned insight into human nature."
Scribner expressed annoyance with both female characters, Harper for abandoning her son, and Liz for doing the same, leaving him with a housekeeper to be with David, and then again when the romance doesn't work out. Scribner wrote that "the selfish behavior of both Mallory women made me want to shake them (and worry about Nick's future therapy bills). Liz's self-centered and frequently self-pitying behavior severely limited my interest in whether she and David lived happily ever after or not."
Similarly, in reviewing The Fountain, Library Journal contributor Carol J. Bissett wrote that "this reviewer found it hard to get involved with a protagonist that she couldn't respect." Casey Becket has been married to husband Michael for nearly twenty years when Will Combray, who dumped her during senior year in high school, returns to town to take up where he left off. Casey weighs whether she should remain with her faithful husband or act on the attraction she is feeling for her former beau.
In Waterloo Station, eighteen-year-old Carrie Benedict offers to help her grandmother, Maude, clean her attic. From a trunk, they retrieve a volume of poetry given to Maude by her English husband in 1938. They met at Oxford University, where he was her tutor, but Stephen was married to Helena, and the couple carried on the affair in secret. When Stephen was called to serve in the Royal Navy's intelligence unit, they could no longer communicate. Maude provides Carrie with the details of how their love was put in jeopardy and how it survived.
Night Train to Lisbon is set in 1936. Carson Weatherell, daughter of wealthy Connecticut parents, goes to Europe with her Aunt Jane and Jane's husband, Lawrence, who is with British intelligence. On the train from Paris to Lisbon, she meets dashing British physicist Alec Breve. Lawrence presents evidence to Carson that Alec is a German spy, and although she at first distances herself from him, eventually they join together to attempt to prove his innocence. Booklist's Patty Engelmann wrote that Grayson "delivers a sweet story about young love and gritty politics as the horrors of World War II loom."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, April 1, 1999, Alexandra Shrake, review of The Gazebo, p. 1385; June 1, 2001, Patty Engelmann, review of The Fountain, p. 1854; April 1, 2003, Patty Engelmann, review of Waterloo Station, p. 1383; April 15, 2004, Patty Engelmann, review of Night Train to Lisbon, p. 1424.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2003, review of Waterloo Station, p. 415.
Library Journal, February 15, 1999, Jodi L. Israel, review of The Gazebo, p. 183; May 15, 2001, Carol J. Bissett, review of The Fountain, p. 160.
People, June 21, 1999, Cynthia Sanz, review of The Gazebo, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, February 15, 1999, review of The Gazebo, p. 84; April 10, 2000, review of The Observatory, p. 74; May 17, 2004, review of Night Train to Lisbon, p. 35.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (November 5, 2004), Harriet Klausner, review of The Fountain.
Romance Reader Web site, http://www.theromancereader.com/ (November 5, 2004), Susan Scribner, reviews of The Gazebo and The Conservatory.
RomanticTimes.com, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (November 5, 2004), Sheri Melnick, review of Waterloo Station.*