Review: A Body at Rest

A Body at Rest, by Susan Petrone

When the most drunken guy at the table put his hand on my rear end and made a rather ungentlemanly proposition, I didn't slap him. I quoted Shakespeare.

"Drink provokes the desire but takes away the performance," I said. The unwanted hand was still on my rear, but you could see that he was making an honest effort to understand what he'd just heard. "Macbeth. Act two, scene three," I added, although I knew the attribution wouldn't make a difference.

A Body at Rest, by Susan Petrone

Pretty darned good start to a novel, wouldn't you say? It shouldn't be a surprise, though, considering this debut novel by Susan Petrone was a 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award semi-finalist.

So here's the basics: best friends and roommates, Martha and Nina are twenty-something cocktail waitresses, aimlessly drifting through life. They drink too much, they smoke too much, they migrate from man to man. Well read and well educated, they just need to find direction.

And then on an impetuous road trip the unexplainable, the remarkable, the improbable happens. An impromtu visit to a mysterious tattoo parlor changes Martha and Nina forever.


The girls begin to slowly turn into their favorite literary characters. Physically and mentally, Martha begins to morph into the imperious and proper Emma Woodhouse while Nina (the poor girl) slowly turns into the knight-errant, Don Quixote.

Ol' Don and his sidekick, Sancho

What follows is both hysterical and heart-breaking as each of the girls must now follow her new destiny.

Petrone writes sharp, literary-minded dialogue and the plot moves along at a pretty darned good clip. Once the characters (and the reader, for that matter) wrap their minds around what it really going on, the literary references take on a new importance and it becomes a fun challenge to see where Petrone is going with all this.

A Reader's Respite has always enjoyed novels invoking literary classics. For those of you who are drawn to Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, this novel will also take you on a literary romp you won't soon forget.

dear Emma Woodhouse

You'll have to suspend belief for this one, but that is half the fun. Who we are, where we're heading and how to find our destiny is the other half. Enjoy!

If you'd like to read some of Susan Petrone's short stories, visit her website!

Title: A Body at Rest
Author: Susan Petrone
ISBN-13: 978-0982060919
268 pages
Publisher: Drinian Press
Date: January 25, 2009

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  1. I have a twisted and maleable mind, so I am sure I could easily go along for the ride on this one! It sounds like a fun trip.

  2. The comparison to Fforde makes this one I need to add to my TBR list!

  3. I remember Susan's excerpt from the ABNA Contest. Good to see she's published.

  4. That sounds fun! I like Fforde so I'll have to keep my eye open for this one. I need some light reading!

  5. Your review was fantastic, as always.

  6. Oooh, I bet I would love this book! Wouldn't be so bad to morph into Emma, but Don? Poor girl. This one is going on my wish list!


  7. That sounds like a lot of fun!

  8. I really liked this one too! :) Thanks for the link :)

  9. I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds like a fun read.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  10. This sounds like a great read, but why didn't the author say "ass" instead of "rear end?" Rear end sounds so old-womanish!

  11. Sounds terrific, it's on my short list.

  12. It's funny, I have problem with suspension of disbelief as long as the author doesn't focus on how the trasformation takes place.

    I liked Finney's TIME AND AGAIN because the time travel just happened, no magic potion or time machine. Same with CONFESSIONS OF A JANE AUSTEN ADDICT.

    I think I'd like this one, interesting premise!

  13. Thanks for the heads up on this novel. Morphing into Emma Woodhouse coud be quite a transformation. Does she attempt to matchmake for all of her friends?

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

  14. Very interesting premise! I enjoy novels that "invoke literary classics" too so I may just pick this one up!

  15. Boy, this sounds great. I'm going to look for it.

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Fire away!