ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Agent—c/o Plume Publicity, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
CAREER: Writer. Hutchinson (publisher), London, England, managing director. Worked variously as an English teacher in Ethiopia, an au pair in Cannes, a waitress in Corsica, and a secretary at Oxford University Press.
Special Relationship, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
Perfect Strangers, Penguin (New York, NY), 1998.
Just Friends, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Weekend in Paris, Plume (New York, NY), 2003.
Summer in the City, Plume (New York, NY), 2005.
Just Friends was optioned for film by Warner Brothers and Perfect Strangers was optioned for film by Working Title.
Author's works have been translated into twenty-five languages.
SIDELIGHTS: Novelist and publishing executive Robyn Sisman was born in Los Angeles, but while growing up she and her family traveled and lived in many areas of the world, including Switzerland, Germany, and England. Her international experience made her keenly aware of interactions between different cultures and languages, and these interactions, especially as they apply to romantic relationships, are at the heart of her fiction. "All my books revolve around the delights and misunderstandings of cross-cultural relationships—of which I have rich experience!" Sisman stated on the Penguin UK Web site.
Sisman started her first novel, Special Relationship, under difficult circumstances. A new mother freshly downsized from her job as managing director of the publishing company Hutchinson, she "learned more about writers and writing than in a decade of publishing," she remarked on the Penguin UK site. In the novel, Tom Hamilton, son of Annie, a successful London literary agent, has just learned a surprising secret about his paternity: His biological father is the Bill Clinton-like Jordan Hope, a former Rhodes scholar, a deft saxophone player, and the leading contender for the position of president of the United States. Intent on meeting this famous sire, Tom takes a break from his Oxford studies and travels to New York, where he encounters his godmother, Rose, a prominent publisher. Rose teaches Tom some important life lessons while shielding Jordan's campaign from any scandal that would arise with the appearance of an illegitimate child from the candidate's Oxford days. When Annie also travels to meet with Jordan to resolve longstanding issues about Tom, she too discovers secrets in her past. "Any pollster could predict Tom's return to England, Jordan's victory, and Annie's inevitable discovery that true love has been waiting all along at home," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic, who also conceded that Sisman's approach "comes across here as well-crafted and fresh." The novel "redeems its titillating concept through fluid writing and well-wrought characters," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Freya Penrose, the main character of Just Friends, is a transplanted Briton working in a New York City art gallery. As she prepares for a special night out with her longtime live-in lover, Michael, she feels sure he is going to pop the question. Unfortunately for Freya, Michael's motivation for the date is to end their relationship. Suddenly single, and with no place to live, Freya seeks help from writer Jack Madison, a pal of ten years' standing who, she insists, is like a brother to her. Jack agrees to let her stay with him for a short time. Close proximity makes the old friends squabble, but when Jack accompanies Freya to England for her stepsister's wedding, their status as "just friends" seems endangered. "From the opening gun, Sisman delivers pleasant prose, clever repartee, and insight into the differences between men and women, albeit firmly from a modern woman's point of view," commented Michael Prager in the Boston Globe. "With a dash of British humor and an adroit insight into family relationships and what really makes love work, Sisman's latest offering has what it takes," remarked a reviewer in Publishers Weekly, while Peggy Barber, writing in Booklist, called the characters "gorgeous and witty" and remarked that "the plot has enough amusing twists and turns to be believable and delightful."
In Summer in the City Lloyd, a thriving New York account executive, and Suze, a graphic artist from England, undergo a six-week job swap for the advertising agency that employs them both. Each is challenged by the adjustment to a new country's lifestyle, and though they have never met in person, frequent phone calls help quell the culture shock as the two become friends via international telecommunication. Romance seems inevitable, though it is complicated by Lloyd's recent marriage proposal to his girlfriend Betsy and Suze's involvement in a project that threatens Lloyd's job. Booklist reviewer Aleksandra Kostovski commented that Sisman's "transatlantic romance is a real charmer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2000, Peggy Barber, review of Just Friends, p. 788; February 1, 2005, Aleksandra Kostovski, review of Summer in the City, p. 950.
Boston Globe, March 1, 2001, Michael Prager, "In This Novel, Relationships Are Everything," review of Just Friends, p. C2.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1995, review of Special Relationship, pp. 736-737.
Library Journal, July, 1995, M. J. Simmons, review of Special Relationship, p. 124.
New York Times Book Review, August 13, 1995, Judith Martin, review of Special Relationship, p. 14.
Observer (London, England), April 16, 1995, p. 18.
People, March 29, 2004, review of Weekend in Paris, p. 57.
Publishers Weekly, May 8, 1995, review of Special Relationship, p. 284; December 18, 2000, review of Just Friends, p. 56.
Penguin UK Web site, http://www.penguin.co.uk/ (February 15, 2005), "Robyn Sisman."