June 2009

Insights from the afterlife

By Sally Koslow
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By the time we meet Molly Divine Marx in the opening pages of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx, she is dead. But that by no means detracts from the many charms of Sally Koslow’s wonderful new novel.

We join Molly as she peers down on her family and friends from “the Duration,” willing one determined police detective to solve the mystery of her sudden death.

The suspects are many. Molly may have had a great life in New York City—adorable young daughter, great friends, loving parents and a fiercely loyal twin sister—but she also had Barry, a narcissistic plastic surgeon husband who cheated on her with alarming regularity. One mistress in particular seems off-kilter enough to do Molly real harm.

And then there was Luke, with whom she had a whirlwind affair and a bumpy breakup. A lovesick Luke insisted he and Molly were meant to be together, but she firmly rebuffed him, determined to make a fresh start with Barry.

Although Molly narrates from the heavens, this is not “The Lovely Bones: The Middle-Aged Years.” Koslow provides only the sketchiest glimpses of the afterlife, wisely focusing instead on Molly’s cosmic voyeurism into happenings back on Earth. And like anyone would if given the chance, Molly takes full advantage of her newfound gift. She peeks in on her preschool-aged daughter, watches her husband flirt his way through the Upper West Side, and averts her eyes demurely when her best friend gets lucky.

But in the months after her death, police are no closer to figuring out how Molly ended up in the Hudson River. Molly begins to wonder whether she—and her loved ones back home—will be stuck floating in limbo forever.

Former editor-in-chief of McCall’s magazine, Koslow made her fiction debut with the novel Little Pink Slips—very Manhattan-magazine-editor-in-Manolos fabulous, but also light as a feather. This novel goes deeper, filled with remarkable clarity about how to embrace life while you can.

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