eBook Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane download
08/18/2019 | by admin
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
**The Tonight Show Summer Reads Pick**
“One of the most unpretentiously profound books I’ve read in a long time…modestly magnificent.” —Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
“A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy.” —Elle
How much can a family forgive?
Download eBook Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane in pdf, epub, mobi, rtf and docx
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane details:
- File Size: 6167 KB
- Format: pdf, epub, mobi, rtf, docx, audiobook
- Print Length: 400 pages
- Publisher: Scribner (May 28, 2019)
- Publication Date: May 28, 2019
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07MNJ62D6
eBook summary Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
An Amazon Best Book of June 2019: Mary Beth Keane is a fantastic writer. She has the kind of authorial magic that makes her characters appear in the imagination as complete, fully realized human beings. They are alive—and Ask Again, Yes is about the entirety of those characters’ lives. Told in alternating chapters, the book is a domestic novel about two families who wind up living next door to one another in the 70s. Both of the fathers are cops working in the same precinct. They aren’t that close, but two of their children—Peter and Kate—develop a relationship. Peter and Kate provide the through line to the story, a line that is broken by a violent act. When they do reconnect they will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the fallout from their early years, as will their family members—as readers we will watch as their lives move from promise to actual experience to finally examining and understanding how it all happened. —Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air“A beautiful novel, bursting at the seams with empathy.”
—Brianna Kovan, Elle
“Keane’s novel is a rare example of propulsive storytelling with profound insights about blame, forgiveness and abiding love.” —People Magazine
“A profound story… Keane’s gracefully restrained prose gives her characters dignity… shows how difficult forgiveness can be—and how it amounts to a kind of hard-won grace.” —Vogue
“Keane writes with acute sensitivity and her characters are consistently, authentically lived-in. . . . smartly told.” –Entertainment Weekly
“I devoured this astonishing tale of two families linked by chance, love, and tragedy. Mary Beth Keane gives us characters so complex and alive that I find myself still thinking of them days after turning the final page. A must-read.”
—J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Saints for All Occasions
“Mary Beth Keane takes on one of the most difficult problems in fiction—how to write about human decency. In Ask Again, Yes, Keane creates a layered emotional truth that makes a compelling case for compassion over blame, understanding over grudge, and the resilience of hearts that can accept the contradictions of love.”
— Louise Erdrich, author of The Round House
“Ask Again, Yes is a powerful and moving novel of family, trauma, and the defining moments in people’s lives. Mary Beth Keane is a writer of extraordinary depth, feeling and wit. Readers will love this book, as I did.”
—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
“Mary Beth Keane looks past the veneer that covers ordinary moments and into the very heart of real life. There’s a Tolstoyan gravity, insight, and moral heft in these pages, and Keane’s ability to plumb the depths of authentic feeling while avoiding sentimentality leaves one shaking one’s head in frank admiration. This wonderful book is so many things: a gripping family drama; a sensitive meditation on mental illness; a referendum on the power and cost of loyalty; a ripping yarn that takes us down into the depths and back up; in short, a triumph.”
—Matthew Thomas, author of We Are Not Ourselves
“Keane’s story embraces family lives in all their muted, ordinary, yet seismic shades… offers empathy and the long view… Tender and patient, the novel avoids excessive sweetness while planting itself deep in the soil of commitment and attachment. Graceful and mature. A solidly satisfying, immersive read.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
“Thoughtful, compassionate… illustrates the mutability of memory and the softening effects of time… poignantly demonstrates how grace can emerge from forgiveness.”
“Mary Beth Keane is at the height of her powers in this novel about the sacrifices we make when we choose to build a life with someone. In Ask Again Yes, Keane tells a story about the fragility of happiness, the violence lurking beneath everyday life, and, ultimately, the power of love. If you’ve ever loved someone beyond reason, you will love this wise, tender, and beautiful book.”
—Eleanor Henderson, author of Ten Thousand Saints
“Mary Beth Keane combines Joan Didion’s exacting eye for detail with the emotional wallop of Alice McDermott. From the ache of first love to the recognition that the people closest to us are flawed and human, Ask Again, Yes is a moving testament to the necessary act of forgiveness. It is heartbreaking, hopeful, and honest.”
—Brendan Mathews, author of The World of Tomorrow
“Beautifully observed. . . . Ask Again, Yes is a tale that will compel readers to think deeply about the ravages of unacknowledged mental illness, questions of family love and loyalty, and the arduous journey towards forgiveness.” —BookPage, starred review
“Stunning! An absolutely brilliant, gorgeously-written novel by a fearless writer. Ask Again, Yes is both haunting and hopeful, like life itself. It’s the consummate epic family story, one I can’t stop thinking and talking about. A must-read for our time.” –Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women
“Her characters are flawed, thoughtful, hard-working people trying to make sense of ordinary and sometimes impossible events, and dealing with the ripple effects of the past on the present… a thought-provoking family drama and a testament to the power of forgiveness.” —Shelf Awareness
“A gut-wrenching tale.”
A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.
Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.
“The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don’t know what they’re doing any better than kids do. That’s the truth.”
Oh, I love a good family drama.
Ask Again, Yes is a book about the members of two families– the Gleesons and the Stanhopes. They are first brought together through the New York City police academy when young rookies Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope work together. Later, they become neighbours and start families next to one another. Except any chance of cordiality between them is destroyed on one fateful night.
This is one of those intimate character portraits that explores the interactions between the characters in depth and with an unusual level of insight into human nature. There are some perfectly-crafted scenes where as the reader I felt like, yes, that is exactly how someone would behave in that situation. While the book is busy focusing on the characters, many issues emerge over the course of the novel, integrated so seamlessly that it wasn’t until I looked back at the end that I fully appreciated what Keane had done.
I don’t want to make the book seem sentimental, because it is not at all. But it is very empathetic, and the author writes each character with love and sensitivity. Anne’s mental illness causes ruptures in her marriage with Brian, amongst other things, while the Gleesons seem determined to honor commitment no matter what troubles befall them.
I love the understanding that consequences can be far-reaching, both over time and to other people. The book follows the Gleeson daughter, Kate, and the Stanhope son, Peter, over many years, and yet they can never fully escape their beginnings.
You probably know by now if this is a YOU book. It’s one of those for readers who like to explore the nuances of human behaviour and relationships. An obvious choice if you loved Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.
Lying in my bed at night, after finishing this book, I found myself unwilling audience to a seethe of objectionable thoughts about the story, like watching a flickering home movie projected into a makeshift screen. My mind refused to release me to oblivion, and, although the ending brings to mind the setting of one’s soul at ease and the wheeling of stars into alignment once again, I turned the last page feeling heavier with what I knew. I still do.
So, what’s this book about?
Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are friends, but perhaps “friends” is an inaccurate word to use. They moved into neighboring homes in the small town of Gillam with their respective new brides, Anne and Lena, but mainly were thrown together by the fact that they were both rookie cops in a tough Bronx precinct—a situation which, at the time, did not seem necessarily unpropitious. Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s only son, Peter, sought true friendship in the golden harbor of each other’s arms, but tragedy found them first. Violence and towering rage were like a leak that stole all the air from their homes, and soon, a final invisible mooring line snapped, and Kate and Peter are both cast adrift.
Years later, Kate and Peter are still rummaging the dark, and each other, for happiness, spitting the past out behind them and throwing themselves into the future. But once unearthed, there was no containing the memories, and they are soon being hunted by all the sorrows they had collected over the years—their whole arsenal, turned against them. Kate and Peter will soon find out that tragedies do not immunize you against further tragedies, misfortune doesn’t get scattered around in fair proportions, and the past could become a stone that quickly drags you to the depths when “you repeat what you do not repair.”
The plot of Ask Again, Yes, for a while, has some trouble catching flight, but as the families’ tragedy is dragged to the fore, the depth of the author’s storytelling prowess unveils itself. There’s a vicious grace and a soul-baring emotional honesty to the novel, and Keane has deftly crafted a masterly wrought diorama full of realistically rendered relationships and tensions, observations about family, the ties that bind mothers and sons even through years of separation, and the ways love ferments in the airless conditions of unaddressed trauma. The author invites us into the low-lit corners of every household at those tremulous moments in which the whole human condition is suddenly within reach, if heartbreakingly so, and the story she tells, as strange in its specificity as it is, remains universal in its familiarity.
One of the novel’s most poignant successes is the way Keane challenges her readers—and characters—by offering a myriad of angles on the events, and infusing each with enough complexity to make them lodge themselves in the reader’s mind. The tragedy that has befallen the Gleeson and Stanhope families is disinterred throughout the novel, reexamined and re-discussed. Loose threads are picked out of every version and efforts are made to knit it all together in order to make a single, comprehensible tale. Sometimes those threads leave gaps too wide to be darned, making all that has unfolded devoid of a clear rhyme and reason.
Keane lets every character speak for themselves, and allows the reader to eavesdrop on the layered complications of their hearts, and decide which character should capture their allegiance. She never ignores their faults, their achingly human proneness to self-justification, but she also captures their longing to be kind, and despite myself, I often suffered a deep pang of sympathy for them. That’s what good storytelling does—it transforms a character from a tangential sketch into a human being, links “us” to “them.” If there’s a fault to be found here is that the novel’s inhabitants could emote more effusively. More often than not, they come off as silent, set apart from the violence of their emotions. That’s not enough, however, to put a serious dent in the novel’s spell.
Ask Again, Yes is irreversibly sanguine; but it isn’t the easiest read. It’s a dark, disturbing book; and as you read the novel, it is impossible to dislodge a sense of foreboding from your mind—the feeling like seeing a shark’s fin vanishing beneath the waves. We do not so much wonder what might happen as worry about what will happen. That haunted atmosphere permeates every page, and I could feel the dread stirring in me like ash as Kate and Peter stubbornly carry the hopelessness none of them would utter before them, hoping for the other to filch it away.
Ask Again, Yes is more than just another story about a family with little to offer but a sad history. There’s plenty of nuance, dimension and empathy to Keane’s novel. Ask Again, Yes provides a potently visceral portrait of what it’s like to live with mental illness, while delicately probing the long-lasting repercussions of its non-treatment. The layered narrative across the decades shows how attitudes towards mental illness are changing for the better—but we still have a long way to go.
At the novel’s heart also lurks the certainty that the things one is made to endure in childhood could not be undone and would steer their fates for many years to come, that the pain suffered in youth is bound to leave a rotten place, like a bruise on fruit, somewhere on one’s soul. “The beginning of one’s life matters the most,” writes Keane, “life is top-heavy that way.” Even so, Ask Again, Yes, wades through the darkness with heart. Hope makes an appearance (or, if anything, the last stage before hope becomes attainable). Hope that no matter how far you travel away from your loved ones, it’ll come a day when you will make out each other’s silhouettes again. That you may have given each other wounds, but they are not always mortal.
“Things are better now, they feel like they’re getting better—don’t they? But there might be more coming. This might be the least of it. Have you thought about that? We knew nothing about what it meant to grow up, to be partners, parents, all of it. Nothing. And maybe we still don’t. Would you have said yes back then if you’d known?”
“But I know now. So ask me.”
But he couldn’t find the right words. “I’ll give you a hint,” she said, squeezing his hands until he looked up to meet her eyes. “Then and now, I say yes.”
Ask Again, Yes is a hugely sensitive and deeply humanizing story about the never-ending ache of love and loss. Not to be missed!
Edited after much thought to revise rating from 4.25 Stars to 5 Stars. The ramifications of this novel and its ending have stayed with me!
“Ask Again, Yes” is Literary Fiction at its best!
This novel is an exploration of life, love, family, mistakes and the tragedies of everyday life. The Stanhopes and the Gleasons are at odds. Will they ever heal the rift that tore their families apart?
Alcoholism, friendship, forgiveness, mental illness, love and tragedy. These are the themes of “Ask Again, Yes.”
This is one heck of an engrossing novel. I truly felt for the characters of Peter and Kate. The trials and tribulations of two families – your heart will literally be pulled in two, feeling bad for each, at certain points in time, almost feeling as if you are betraying the other. Admittedly, parts of this novel totally shocked me. I felt as though I should have understood certain things from the get go and didn’t and when things came to light I was like “oh!” Then there is the ending… yes, tears sprung to my eyes, (some of you are like, yeah “big surprise, you old sap!”). Seriously though, I simply couldn’t help myself!
If you love literary fiction, fiction or are just looking for a great read, grab this and read it. You will not be disappointed.
This was a buddy read with Kaceey. I loved reading this one with you Kaceey and was so glad that you ended up liking this one too!
Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner and Mary Beth Keane for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Book of the Month selection June 2019
“The thing is, Peter, grown-ups don’t know what they’re doing any better than kids do. That’s the truth.”
You’ve seen this book around before. You know the one I’m talking about; it’s got an aesthetically pleasing blue-green cover, boasts of domestic drama and in-depth character study of the darker side of families, while promising the reader that they will experience a grand range of emotion by the time the final page is turned. These books are one thing, pure and simple: book club bait. While I always fall for the cover, the inside of such books rarely leaves a longterm impression on me, because it is truly difficult for a book that follows the same procedure and format as every other in its genre to attain a memorable status in my internal hard drive. Yes, this book did follow that formula, remaining fairly predictable, but for some reason these characters were quite enticing, and the author did leave an impression that kept me thinking about these characters well after finishing their story.
I can’t help but loosely compare this book to the likes of Liane Moriarty, because I had a similar reading experience while working through Ask Again, Yes as I did when I picked up Big Little Lies. Years ago, I joined an online bookclub with my sister and the first month we participated, we were discussing BLL. It was long, and I was intimidated, and the beginning portions were incredibly slow, so much so that I almost tossed the book and told Irina she was on her own. 😉 I’m really glad she encouraged me to stick with it, because once I was fully invested in the characters, I began to breeze through and consider it one of the first books to help me embrace the lighter side of the mystery genre. AAY has a very similar setup-slow burning intro while we get acquainted with the characters, and then we steadily speed up once a few “things” begin to happen.
There are many, many emotional aspects to this story, and for the most part it’s very sad and mildly heavy, but the ending was done so well that it kept my final verdict as hopeful, while teaching me where to be grateful. The characters of both families suffer tremendously in various ways over the years, and some of the reasons are based on their choices, but most of the outcomes are results of unexpected circumstances, which gave a tense, straining sensation as the story unfolds. If you enjoy family sagas that feature coming-of-age in less than ideal circumstances, you may want to give this one a try for yourself. Some of the buzz-worthy topics included are mental health, addiction, cancer, and how tragedy affects all sorts of relationships, such as married couples and parents/children. Those are some tough issues to cover, but this book does so in very mild ways, with little to no graphic content, and mainly just in being referred to prior to an event or as a memory. The possible discussions that will spur from reading this book are endless, and I cannot wait to see how the general public reacts to Ask Again, Yes once it’s released.
I have always enjoyed reading family stories that take me on their journey across time. This is a story of two families over several decades and how their lives intersect in a tragic way as well as one that is filled of love and ultimately forgiveness. Two NYC police officers, living next door to each other in the suburbs, connected mainly by the friendship of their two young children. Abruptly the things going on in one of the families impact the other in a way that changes everyone’s life and the two young friends are separated. In less capable hands, this book could have been melodramatic, but it wasn’t. The author addressed some tough, realistic issues – mental illness, alcoholism, parental abandonment and the effects on these characters, who I was vested in throughout, felt for throughout. This could never be a happily ever after story because the things that happened to these characters are burdens that while can be lightened by that love, loyalty and forgiveness, they can never fully be erased. An ending that was satisfying and provided realistic closure. Highly recommended.
This was a monthly buddy read with Diane and Esil.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through Edelweiss and NetGalley.
This is one of those books that, as I pondered writing this review, I have changed my rating from a 4 to a 5. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly strong the characters in this book are, I finished it last week and I’m still thinking about them., all of them. If you love strong character driven books, you will love this one! I had a bit of believability issues with one of the main characters but it doesn’t take away from the entire body of work.
From the blurb you know that this novel is about two neighboring families, both husbands are policemen who started out as rookies on the NYPD force. The book is told from several points of view which I think greatly improved my understanding of how the individuals felt and acted.
Francis Gleeson has had a great career, he is strong willed, intelligent, diligent and yet with his family he has an incredible soft touch. He is the first to move to this new suburb, he, his wife and two daughters are doing well individually and as a family, although Lena is at times lonely and would like a larger life outside the home.
Within months Brian and Anne move in next door to the Gleeson’s. Brian and Francis are not close friends at this point, but they are friendly. Anne is quite a different matter, she does not go out of her way to befriend the Gleesons and keeps to her house much of the time. Later, both Anne and Lena have children only six months apart, Peter and Kate, who are immediately bonded to each other even as little friends. Their story will play a huge part in the novel.
A terrible incident occurs which changes the lives of everyone in both families, it is tragic, horrific and probably could have been avoided. The Stanhopes are forced to move away. I would not spoil this novel for anyone by giving away anything more.
This is a book that I couldn’t wait to get back to and finished in two days. This story hits all the emotional buttons, happiness, extreme sadness, frustration, hope, love and forgiveness. We are taken through the lives of these families who handle the tragedy in very different ways. The plot flows very well and is extremely well thought out. We really get to know these people, this is the first book this year that has touched me in this way.
Buy the book, read it, ponder what you would do in this situation and you won’t be disappointed.
As an afterthought, I did read The Walking People, by this author many years ago and it was excellent, so if you enjoy this one, go back and read the other.
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
The cover of this book is remarkable and behind the cover is a remarkable book. At first glance, the cover appears to be an example of a painting technique known as impasto (I think). Closer scrutiny reveals a typical suburban neighborhood that could be Anywhere, USA. And so it is with this novel. At first glance, Ask Again, Yes seems to be an American dream or coming of age novel and in some ways it is but beneath these obvious themes lie much more. A violent act leaves two families forever changed and another event leaves them forever linked. You will live the decades of these characters’ lives right along with them. Mental illness, stoicism, alcoholism, achievement, love and forgiveness mark this marvelous novel and the author treats her characters with great tenderness. You won’t forget them.
Mary Beth Keane’s novel, Ask Again, Yes is ultimately about family, love, mistakes, forgiveness and being able to move forward in life, to move past tragedy and embrace our lives – both the good and bad moments.
This is definitely not my typical type of read but I’m so glad I gave it a try. The Gleesons and the Stanhopes fully captured me. I easily found myself invested in these people as I followed their family histories through time.
Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson are rookie cops who meet at the academy and are then assigned to the same precinct. Years later they find themselves living next to each other, their children becoming friends and the families forever intertwined.
This is also a story that sheds light on some of the darker aspects of family life – alcoholism, mental illness, abuse and infidelity.
On a night when young Peter Stanhope and Kate Gleeson sneak out to be together, tragedy strikes causing a huge rift between the two families. The two teenagers are ripped apart from each other despite their love for each other. Can their love survive distance, time and familial obligation?
I loved Kate and Peter so much! I was fully invested in their story and how it evolved over time. Though this was a slow moving novel (which I’m typically not a huge fan of), I found myself coming back to it every chance I got. The characters were well fleshed out and Keane wrote about mental illness with sensitivity. What I enjoyed most was that the relationships were not fluffy and easy – they were messy, complicated and deeply moving. This thought provoking book is one that should not be missed!
Thank you to Mary Beth Keane, Scribner and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review an arc of this book!
heads up to whom it may concern: this book is primo book club bait. in general, the best book club choices are ones with juicy conflicts at their centers which inspire strong, differing, politely expressed opinions from your assembled booknerds. and the best of these have an extra component—they allow the reader a sort of peripheral empathy; taking recognizable, relatable issues like illness, marital/job stress, disputes with the neighbors, etc, and then dramatically inflating them into situations one hopes never to have to live through, providing that “there but for the” shiver.
the publisher’s synopsis seems to want to keep its secrets, so i’ll play along and summarize in the broadest terms: it’s about two families and one verybad night that changes the course of their lives for decades to come. and the specifics of this dramatically inflated situation, and all of its ripple effects, are sure to inspire some wide-ranging booknerd opinions.
it has all of the things that breed discussion—nuanced characters with complicated relationships given years to develop and adjust, and to confront life’s myriad challenges: infidelity, addiction, mental illness, abandonment, loneliness, regret—all of the meaty woes of life. but it’s also a first love story, with a bit of a romeo and juliet edge, although in this case, the capulet’s disapproval of their kid’s romantic choice is totally legit. awkward thanksgivings for sure.
it’s an engrossing and insightful story of human relationships and growth and forgiveness, but it’s not schmaltzy and sentimental like so many books of its kind. i liked it. maybe your book club will like it.
but don’t take my word for it—there’s actually a literary litmus test for IS THIS A BOOK CLUB BOOK?
IS THIS A BOOK CLUB BOOK?
does it look like this?
does it look like this?
does it look like this?
I THINK IT IS A BOOK CLUB BOOK!!!
About author Mary Beth Keane
Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 under 35,” and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People, Fever, and Ask Again, Yes.
Though all of Keane’s novels have Irish characters, each is significantly different. Her debut, The Walking People, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2009, is about an Irish immigrant girl with a secret past. Her second book, Fever, is a historical novel about the notorious Typhoid Mary published in 2013 by Scribner; Graham bought it at auction for “well into six figures,” according to Chris Calhoun, Keane’s agent.
Ask Again, Yes, Keane’s third book, which Scribner is publishing in June, has autobiographical elements and is her most personal novel yet. She was researching another historical when, turning 40, she “noticed people struggling with divorce and addictions and illness.” She wanted to find her way through these things, she says. “And my husband’s estrangement from his family [the mentally ill mother in the book is based on Keane’s mother-in-law] became an issue when my children started asking questions about their missing set of grandparents. Figuring out how to bring everyone together is how the book came to be. I had an Oprah mentality that healing could happen and everyone could move forward, but it’s not that easy.”
Keane started writing short pieces and, about 75 pages in, realized she had a novel. Ask Again, Yes features two families of police officers living next door to each other, one of them deeply troubled. Over a span of decades, love grows between two of the children that endures throughout their lifetimes despite a terrible tragedy that rends both families. Graham calls the book “wise, mature, heartbreakingly beautiful.”
“The book was emotionally exhausting,” Keane says. She started writing in 2014 and in 2016 began sending pages to Calhoun. “I knew they were raw but he encouraged me to keep going,” she says. In early 2017, she showed Calhoun the finished manuscript, but he wasn’t convinced.
She did a second draft. Calhoun told her that he could go out with it, but added, “You can do better.”
Keane felt depleted, she says. “I didn’t know what else I could do.”
Calhoun remembers taking Keane out for lunch to tell her that “it just wasn’t there,” noting that “there was too much cop stuff.” He expected her to tell him that she was done and that she would find another agent.
But instead, Keane took the manuscript back. “I stopped working on it through the summer of 2017, and in September, it all fell into place”.
As for Calhoun, he has a long and sweet history with Keane. He was a partner and v-p at Sterling Lord Literistic when Keane was hired as the receptionist in 2001 on the recommendation of Mary Gordon. “She sat outside my office,” Calhoun says. He remembers her as shy and very conscientious, and after a few months she became his assistant. “She directed this guy to me, Thomas Heffernan, and I ended up selling his book to Norton for half a million dollars.”
“Telling Heffernan about the sale was, until this day, the best news I ever delivered,” Keane says. “He had written books before, but always academic. He was stunned at the numbers.”
Calhoun says that when Keane sent the third draft of Ask Again, Yes to him, it was so good he wanted to “run right up the stairs with it to Scribner.” Scribner had first right of refusal, and both Calhoun and Keane wanted to stay with Graham.
Kara Watson, an editor and associate marketing director at Scribner, had worked with Graham on Fever and acknowledges that Ask Again, Yes is a totally different book. Watson says she had been back from maternity leave for six months and hadn’t fallen in love with anything until Keane’s manuscript was delivered. “I read it over the weekend and went into Nan and said, ‘We should buy this.’ Nan said she was crying by the time she finished the manuscript.” Scribner bought North American rights in February 2018.
For Ask Again, Yes, Watson did the heavy lifting, Keane says.
“It was a wonderful relationship,” Watson says. “Mary Beth was a joy to work with. She’s so nimble and unprecious. Editorially, nothing was broken; we just did some cutting. I loved this book—young love maturing into a complicated marriage.”
With the editing done, Watson went into marketing mode. Keane went to the ABA’s Winter Institute in Albuquerque in January and will be signing at BookExpo in May. Blurbs came from Louise Erdrich and Meg Wolitzer. To date, foreign rights have sold in France, the Netherlands, and the U.K.
When I spoke with Keane, she was on a prepublication whirl of lunches and cocktail parties. “It’s a lot of socializing,” she says. “All the glamour of a book tour without worrying that no one will show up.”
And finally, I ask Keane about capturing the life of police officers. “I was always fascinated by the world of police work,” she says. “I grew up around police in Rockland County, north of New York City. Lots of my friends’ fathers were police officers—all these sweet teddy bear men, but with guns!”
Keane talked to both retired and active detectives while researching the book. “Cops will never tell the truth about how they feel,” she says. “It took a lot of plates of bacon and eggs to get them to reveal those feelings.”