by Gail Lynn Hanson
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Pub Date 24 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 29 Feb 2024
Dorothy Fiske, eighty-three, adores movie stars, jewelry, murder mysteries, and men. At twenty-five, inspired by Judy Garland and Angela Lansbury, she moved to Los Angeles from a religiously strict Midwestern home. Despite the glamour, Dorothy, heartbroken, was childless. She blamed her sweet, unambitious husband, Eugene, claiming his sperm was weak, but Dorothy knows the truth. Ruth, a sixty-six-year-old home health aide, fears eviction from her LA apartment due to her unusual, antisocial behavior. Previously fired from a nursing facility for residents dying under her care, Ruth targets Dorothy, a widow from a wealthy family in Pacific Palisades, California. Lonely yet prideful, Dorothy hires Ruth as a "lady's maid." Ruth accepts the position and masterfully entwines herself into Dorothy's life because she wants to live in Dorothy's house, alone. The Palisades is a deliciously spun psychological suspense brimming with dark humor in which two women develop a peculiar relationship amid a miasma of Ruth's disturbing memories and Dorothy's pervasive delusions of old Hollywood. Poverty and privilege mingle, companionship turns bizarre, and identity is questioned as the women desperately try to fulfill their shared yearning for motherhood.
"A wonderfully claustrophobic tale of obsession and self-delusion... The author excels at acclimating the reader to the logic of her characters, which is effectively deployed for moments of both repulsion and humor... Hanson deftly conveys how celebrity fandom becomes its own sort of grotesquerie for all involved; the twists are many and fun, but there's a real darkness here that sticks with the reader after the book is finished."
"Hanson’s literary novel skillfully holds a mirror to the darker aspects of the human psyche. Both
Dorothy and Ruth are held hostage by their disappointments and painful regrets. At face value,
neither are “likable” characters. Dorothy is unapologetically judgmental, classist, and racist.
Ruth’s distressing personal history evokes sympathy, but she’s also manipulative and
untrustworthy; after droves of patients died under her watch, Ruth was fired from her job at a
state-run nursing home. Yet Hanson ably crafts an emotionally rich narrative that builds on the
tension simmering between Dorothy and Ruth.
Anchored by Hanson’s deft character construction, this compelling story holds all the appeal of
a Hitchcockian psychological thriller, and the cinematic ending will hit readers like a punch to the gut."
"Gail Lynn Hanson demonstrates an exceptional ability to immerse the reader n the minds of her characters.
Hanson effectively captures the absurdity of celebrity fandom but also delves into the darker aspects of the phenomenon.
Overall, the book is a rollercoaster ride of twists and turns that is sure to leave a lasting impression on readers."
Midwest Book Review
"Hanson brought back my love of psychological thrillers. Bravo!"
"The laser-like focus ona particularly nuanced and emotionally dynamic relationship... Hanson demonstrates a quite profound gift for human observation..."
"The intricate dance that the two (characters) perform throughout the book tingles with electricity...the lines between honesty and manipulation get ever more blurred. Overall, The Palisades is an unmissable character study that will stay with readers for a long time after the final page is turned. I recommend it highly."