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Adult Onset

by Ann-Marie MacDonald

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contemporary women, literary
list price: $32
also available: Paperback Hardcover
category: Fiction
published: 2014
publisher: Knopf Canada
  • Short-listed, Canadian Authors Association Literary Award
  • Short-listed, Lambda Book Award
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From the acclaimed, bestselling author of 2 beloved classics, Adult Onset is a powerful drama about motherhood, the dark undercurrents that break and hold families together, and the power and pressures of love.
          Mary Rose MacKinnon--nicknamed MR or "Mister"--is a successful YA author who has made enough from her writing to semi-retire in her early 40s. She lives in a comfortable Toronto neighbourhood with her partner, Hilary, a busy theatre director, and their 2 young children, Matthew and Maggie, trying valiantly and often hilariously to balance her creative pursuits with domestic demands, and the various challenges that (mostly) solo parenting presents. As a child, Mary Rose suffered from an illness, long since cured and "filed separately" in her mind. But as her frustrations mount, she experiences a flare-up of forgotten symptoms which compel her to rethink her memories of her own childhood and her relationship with her parents. With her world threatening to unravel, the spectre of domestic violence raises its head with dangerous implications for her life and that of her own children.

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Contributor notes

Ann-Marie MacDonald is an author, actor, playwright and broadcaster. She trained as an actor at the National Theatre School of Canada and has appeared in numerous independent Canadian films. She earned a Genie nomination for her role in I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, and won a Gemini Award for Where the Spirit Lives. She has performed in theatres across Canada, recently appearing in the Mirvish Production of Top Girls.
Her first solo-authored play, Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) won the Chalmers Award, the Governor General’s Award, and the Canadian Authors’ Association Award. Her other works for the stage include the libretto for the chamber opera Nigredo Hotel, book and lyrics for the musical Anything that Moves (which garnered several Dora Awards, including Outstanding New Musical), and Belle Moral: A Natural History.
Ann-Marie’s first novel, Fall on Your Knees (1996), was a critically acclaimed international bestseller.  It won the Commonwealth Prize, was short-listed for the Giller Prize, and won the People’s Choice Award and the Canadian Booksellers Association Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year. In 2002 it became an Oprah’s Book Club selection. It has been translated into 19 languages. Her second novel, The Way the Crow Flies (2003), was an international bestseller, a finalist for the Giller Prize, and a Good Morning America Book Club pick. It has been translated into 13 languages.
Her much anticipated new novel, ADULT ONSET, will be published on October 4, 2014.
Ann-Marie is presently host and narrator of CBC’s Doc Zone. She lives in Toronto with her partner and their two children.

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Editorial Review

FINALIST 2014 – Lambda Literary Awards’ Lesbian General Fiction Award
“Riveting…. MacDonald’s strong narrative is a compelling examination of the loneliness and the often-absurd helplessness of being a parent of young children.” 
Publishers Weekly
“She has again delivered a masterpiece.” 
The Globe and Mail

“It is a high achievement for a writer to portray the persistent worry of avoidance in a way than rings true, and MacDonald has beyond succeeded…. The book is an absolute triumph of terrifying authenticity.” 
—Stacey May Fowles, National Post 
“Though all of Ann-Marie’s works are very distinct entities…her third book has the same beautifully crafted descriptions and character-driven storytelling that readers have come to love from the writer.” 
Canadian Living
“It is a stunning and powerful work that will knock readers on their collective keister…. In Adult Onset, every character has depth, a story, nuance.” 
Post City Toronto
“Definitely recommended.”
Daily Mail
“A powerful psychological gyre…. A large-hearted, resonant novel, filled with an interiority that opens out—a generous work.”
—Amity Gaige, The Guardian 
“A sensitive and unmistakably heartfelt novel.”
The Sunday Times
“An affecting, multilayered account of domestic ennui and the painful effects of long-held secrets on three generations.”
Kirkus Reviews
“A complex, troubling novel that cuts with surgical precision into the sinew and muscle of family life.”
—Sarah Waters, author of The Paying Guests 
Adult Onset took me completely by surprise…. Reviewers can call [it] a masterpiece, a dissection of Macdonald’s own life, a book about motherhood and powerful undercurrents, etc. Yet these comments seem so academic and removed from the actual book, which seems to me to demand a deep and honest conversation about real families, about our real experiences as children and mothers. About real pain.”
The Joy Experiment 
“Macdonald’s book remains spellbinding throughout. It is impossible to forget.” 
—Paul Gessell, Quill & Quire

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