STARRED REVIEW
January 2019

Elsey Come Home

By Susan Conley

Elsey once had a strong sense of self. She was an artist, an American expat in Ireland whose paintings drew acclaim. But she’s now lost in marriage, motherhood and alcohol. Elsey moved from Ireland to China to settle in with Lukas, the Danish DJ she met at a rave. Two children later, Elsey knows who is supposed to take precedence in her life—and it’s no longer herself. When Lukas suggests Elsey participate in a weeklong yoga retreat in the mountains, Elsey sees it as an ultimatum. If she doesn’t take this time away, their marriage will unravel. So she accepts.

Share this Article:

Elsey once had a strong sense of self. She was an artist, an American expat in Ireland whose paintings drew acclaim. But she’s now lost in marriage, motherhood and alcohol. Elsey moved from Ireland to China to settle in with Lukas, the Danish DJ she met at a rave. Two children later, Elsey knows who is supposed to take precedence in her life—and it’s no longer herself. When Lukas suggests Elsey participate in a weeklong yoga retreat in the mountains, Elsey sees it as an ultimatum. If she doesn’t take this time away, their marriage will unravel. So she accepts.

The retreat is a challenge. Elsey struggles to be vulnerable during the regular Talking Circles, and her mind is constantly focused on drinking—or not drinking. Elsey thinks, “I had two small girls. I would stop drinking. I know this is what Lukas thought. But drinking doesn’t work like that, and my need for it was stronger than I realized.”

Throughout the retreat, Elsey reflects on her sense of self and the people around her. They become touchstones of sorts, pointing Elsey back to herself. One of the women, Mei, is also wrestling with a marriage that isn’t what she’d hoped. “I want to be the heroine of my story. And you, too, Elsey. You, too, be the heroine,” Mei says. “Not the victim. Understand? Because the heroine is the one who owns the story.”

Susan Conley’s Elsey Come Home is a quiet, contemplative portrait of a woman searching for herself in the midst of the mundane.

 

This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book

Elsey Come Home

Elsey Come Home

By Susan Conley
Knopf
ISBN 9780525520986

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres every Tuesday.