The Best Place to Be by Lesley Dormen

Issue #103
Fall 2007

The Best Place to Be, a novel in stories by Lesley Dormen (Simon & Schuster): In this debut fiction, Dormen successfully captures all the pivotal moments in a woman’s life—dealing with college, facing the death of her mother, arriving at middle age with grace and humor—although not necessarily in chronological order. "I didn’t have any theories," Grace Hanford declares, but she has enough to give this work a real sense of substance while infusing it with funny scenes and mellifluous prose. Here is a character who can feel "some wrong combination of embarrassment and pleasure"; here is a woman who sees men as "the great mystery, the source of all pleasure and pain." Grace Hanford is indeed a "tragedy hound," but her sense of balance between that and human comedy creates a compelling and resonant portrait. —Fred Leebron