Brooklyn BookBeat: Author to Read in Cobble Hill
By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Second chances can be sensitive endeavors, particularly in the realm of romance. And when both of those involved in the budding relationship are widowers, circumstances might be especially delicate. “Two of a Kind,” (A New American Library Trade Paperback Original), acclaimed Brooklyn author Yona Zeldis McDonough’s latest novel, deftly explores the complications that surface when two widowers decide to merge their families.
“Two of a Kind” opens with Christina Connelly, a Catholic girl from Brooklyn, who lost her husband, Will, to a fire ten years earlier. In the first chapter, Christina attends a wedding with her 14-year-old daughter, Jordan, and recalls her own experience falling in love and marrying. In spite of her grieving period, Christina managed to get back on her feet and build a life for her daughter in Brooklyn, where she runs a successful interior design business.
At the wedding, Christina is introduced to Dr. Andy Stern, a handsome widower who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his son, Oliver. Initially Christina is put off by Andy’s demeanor; he nearly sneers when she says she works in Brooklyn, but she assures him that Park Slope is quite beautiful. Despite the negative first impression, Christina agrees to work with Andy when he hires her to decorate his apartment.
Gradually, and to everyone’s surprise, Christina and Andy begin to fall in love. Blending their families is certainly a challenge, especially with their teenage kids who do not get along with one another. Yet despite the characters’ inauspicious foundation, as the story progresses, readers will find themselves rooting wholeheartedly for the relationship to succeed.
To celebrate the novel’s release, McDonough will appear at BookCourt in Cobble Hill on September 10. In anticipation, Brooklyn Eagle spoke to the author about the story’s origins. She tells us about her Brooklyn connections and offers a preview of what she’s working on now.
How did the idea for this story originate?
I need to hear a voice when I write; it's the thing that gets me started. In “Two of a Kind,” the first voice I heard was that of Dr. Andy Stern, a kind of brash, occasionally obnoxious but a fundamentally decent and good man. Once I heard that voice and began writing his story, the novel opened up, and I began to hear the voices of the other people in his life: his son Oliver, still mourning the death of his mother; Christina Connelly, the woman who seems all wrong for him – until they fall in love – and Christina's daughter Jordan, who despises Andy on sight.
Why did you decide to set the story - at least Christina's life - in Brooklyn?
There was never any question of that; I knew I needed a place I felt was very familiar, whose textures and rhythms were known to me so I could get the details right.
Where in Brooklyn do you live?
I've been in my house on Carroll Street in Park Slope for over 20 years.
Do you find that your neighborhood shapes and informs your writing?
Absolutely! I love my neighborhood (and my borough) and think the Slope has a very village-like feel. It's good novel territory; it provides a certain cohesiveness that I like.
What are you reading now?
I am a serial reader, so I have a bunch of things on my bedside table at the moment: “Call Me by Your Name,” by Andre Aciman, “Happy Any Day Now,” by Toby Devens, and “The Wishing Hill,” by Holly Robinson. All are novels; I read mostly fiction with a little poetry tossed in.
Are you working on any new projects?
Yes, I just sold a new manuscript to my wonderful publisher, New American Library. It's called “You Were Meant for Me,” and it's about a woman who finds a baby on the subway platform in Coney Island—and keeps her! And guess what? It's set in Park Slope.
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The September 10 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court St. in Cobble Hill.
Yona Zeldis McDonough is the author of the novels “A Wedding in Great Neck”, “Breaking the Bank”, “The Four Temperaments”, and “In Dahlia’s Wake”, as well as the editor of several essay collections. Her short fiction, articles, and essays have appeared in numerous national publications, including Brides, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, Harper’s Bazaar, Modern Bride, O, The Oprah Magazine and Redbook. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her website atwww.yonazeldismcdonough.com.