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Monsters: A Love Story


Monsters: A Love Story

On the surface of things, the premise of Liz Kay’s debut novel, MONSTERS: A Love Story, is pretty preposterous. Recently widowed poet Stacey Lane finds her life turned on its head when her book is optioned for film by the famous actor and producer Tommy DeMarco. Soon Stacey, who has been living in Omaha, just trying to get herself and her two young sons through each day since the death of her husband, instead finds herself jetting off to remote islands and Hollywood mansions for meetings with writers, directors and Hollywood superstars. And she becomes undeniably entangled with Tommy, who, it turns out, is as intelligent and well-read as he is handsome and promiscuous.

"The situations outlined in MONSTERS may not be remotely realistic, but the emotions and themes that underlie them ring entirely true."

Stacey is confused by her feelings for Tommy, unwilling to believe that she is anything more than the latest in his endless series of flings. And she can’t imagine truly starting a relationship with a guy this mercurial and unreliable, especially when her sons are still so fragile in the wake of their dad’s death. Surely it would be kinder to them --- and more authentic to herself --- to get involved with someone more reliable, someone like an allergist who doesn’t want to scare Stacey off by going to bed with her too quickly.

Yes, this tale of a suburban housewife/poet who finds herself wrapped up in the lifestyles of the rich and famous strains credulity on more than one occasion. It’s difficult to believe, for example, that Tommy’s co-star in the movie would suddenly become Stacey’s BFF, or even that Stacey would be consulted about the artistic direction of the film based on her book.

But that’s kind of not the point of MONSTERS. Instead, Kay takes this borderline absurd premise and uses it to dive deep into some very real themes and issues. How to maintain the balance between being a responsible parent and being an independent, sexual human being, for example. How to negotiate trust in a relationship. How to balance the public face of a romance with what happens when no one is looking. How to make what you know in your heart is the right choice when everyone else around you is convinced you’re completely wrong.

Stacey’s book on which Tommy’s movie is based is itself inspired by the monsters and creators of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN. At times, Stacey’s own behavior, betrayals, thoughtlessness and downright cruelty make her seem monstrous not only to others but also to herself. But finding one’s way from a safe life to an authentic one is never a neat or easy process, and following Stacey on this journey can be both cringe-inducing and revelatory. The situations outlined in MONSTERS may not be remotely realistic, but the emotions and themes that underlie them ring entirely true.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on June 10, 2016

Monsters: A Love Story
by Liz Kay

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2017
  • Genres: Comedy, Fiction, Romance
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 1101982497
  • ISBN-13: 9781101982495