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Belle Boggs, The Gulf, and Theresa Anne Fowler, A Well-Behaved Woman

Saturday, April 27   |   11:00 am

The Gulf

“A smart, slightly kooky exploration of art and money, faith and politics.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Marianne is in a slump: barely able to support herself teaching, not making progress on her poetry, about to lose her Brooklyn apartment. When her novelist ex-fiancé, Eric, and his venture capitalist brother, Mark, offer her a job directing a low-residency school for Christian writers at a motel they’ve inherited on Florida’s Gulf Coast, she can’t come up with a reason to say no.

The Genesis Inspirational Writing Ranch is born, and liberal, atheist Marianne is soon knee-deep in applications from writers whose political and religious beliefs she has always opposed, but whose money she’s glad to take. Janine is a schoolteacher whose heartfelt poems explore the final days of Terri Schiavo’s life. Davonte is a former R&B superstar who hopes to reboot his career with a best-selling tale of excess and redemption. Lorraine and Tom, eccentric writers in need of paying jobs, join the Ranch as instructors.

Mark finds an investor in God’s Word God’s World, a business that develops for-profit schools for the Christian market, but the strings that come along with their support become increasingly problematic, especially as Marianne grows closer to the students. As unsavory allegations mount, a hurricane bears down on the Ranch, and Marianne is faced with the consequences of her decisions.

With sharp humor and deep empathy, in this timely debut novel Belle Boggs plumbs the troubled waters dividing America.

Belle Boggs is the author of The Art of Waiting and Mattaponi Queen. Her stories and essays have appeared in Orion, Harper’s, the Paris Review, Ecotone, Slate, and many other publications. She teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

A Well-Behaved Woman, the riveting novel of iron-willed Alva Vanderbilt and her illustrious family as they rule Gilded-Age New York, from Theresa Anne Fowler, the New York Times bestselling author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

Alva Smith, her southern family destitute after the Civil War, married into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the newly wealthy but socially shunned Vanderbilts. Ignored by New York’s old-money circles and determined to win respect, she designed and built nine mansions, hosted grand balls, and arranged for her daughter to marry a duke. But Alva also defied convention for women of her time, asserting power within her marriage and becoming a leader in the women’s suffrage movement.

With a nod to Jane Austen and Edith Wharton, in A Well-Behaved Woman Therese Anne Fowler paints a glittering world of enormous wealth contrasted against desperate poverty, of social ambition and social scorn, of friendship and betrayal, and an unforgettable story of a remarkable woman. Meet Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont, living proof that history is made by those who know the rules—and how to break them.

Theresa Anne Fowler is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Raised in the Midwest, she moved to North Carolina in 1995. She holds a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing from North Carolina State University.