Landslide

Susan Conley

February 2021 Proofs in English Literary Fiction

A jewel of a novel about a mother caring for her two sons while everything else–her marriage and the fishing industry her New England community relies on–threatens to crumble around her.

After a fishing accident leaves her husband hospitalized across the border in Canada, Jill is left to look after her teenage boys–“the wolves”–alone. Nothing comes easy in their remote corner of Maine: Money is tight, her son Sam is getting into more trouble by the day, her eldest Charlie has a new girlfriend, and Jill begins to suspect her marriage isn’t as stable as she once believed. As one disaster gives way to the next, she begins to think that it’s not enough to be a caring wife and mother anymore–not enough to show up when needed, nudge her boys in the right direction, believe everything will be okay. But how to protect this life she loves, this household, this family?

With remarkable poise and startling beauty, Landslide ushers us into a modern household where, for a family at odds, Instagram posts, sex-positivity talks, and old fishing tales mingle to become a kind of love language. It is a stunning portrait of a family, as compelling as it is moving, and raises the question of how to remain devoted when the eye of the storm closes in.

 

Represented by Stephanie Cabot

Reviews

I loved Landslide. Susan Conley is such a spare, eloquent writer. Her characters are richly but economically drawn, in this case Jill’s two teenaged sons called ‘the wolves,’ and at the heart of the story is a marriage that may or may not come apart. You are right there with them in a fishing village in Maine, feeling the wind, the sea, the danger, just as you feel Jill’s worries, frustrations, her longings, her love for her family. Smart, honest, and funny, this is a story you won’t forget. – Judy Blume, author of In the Unlikely Event

Susan Conley has knocked it out of the park with Landslide. It is a spectacular tale of hardship and healing told in Conley’s gorgeous, luminous prose. Funny, moving, and deeply insightful, the novel takes such a fresh look at marriage, motherhood, and the wondrous inner lives of teenagers. A truly beautiful and unforgettable love story of a family on the brink. – Lily King, author of Writers & Lovers

Landslide by Susan Conley is a supple examination of the sweet, enduring electricity generated by the ever-present pairings of darkness and light, fear and security, love and loss. If it sounds like a novel for our current predicament, current opportunity, that’s because it is. Landslide is wise and vulnerable, while Conley’s sweet, dry humour allows us sips of hope for the wonderful characters herein. – Rick Bass, author of For a Little While

With spare yet evocative prose, Susan Conley beautifully renders here the tug and pull of what it means to be the only woman in a family of men, a woman who is trying to raise two boys on an island off the coast of Maine, while also tending to her injured fisherman husband, while also trying to be the film maker she has always hoped to be. Landslide is not only a wonderfully compelling portrait of a dying industry and the people who make their living from it, it is also a love letter to the enduring nature of family itself and the ties that bind us all. – Andre Dubus III, author of Gone So Long

From its very first page, Landslide gives the complete and deeply satisfying pleasure of a great novel: a fully realized world peopled by characters you feel you know, or used to know, or wished you knew better. Complicated people trying to sort their way through complicated lives, and the complications are the stuff of ordinary human beings: a mother struggling to manage her teenage sons, her “wolves,” a fishing village in Maine staring down its end, a man in a hospital room miles from his family, and the sharp knife of accident that cuts through our days. As always, Susan Conley’s work allows for the best sort of vanishing. And I went gladly. – Sarah Blake, author of The Guest Book

If D.H. Lawrence had written Sons and Lovers from the maternal perspective, and set his story on the modern coast of Maine, the result would very likely be this novel. Landslide is not only a vicious meditation on the bond between mothers and sons, but a quietly subversive reckoning with the Maine of our literary imagination. So many writers have turned to our coast as a source of innocent beauty; Conley instead reveals how these tidal zones can betray us, and curse us with all of the anger and resentment, sacrifice and pain that can only be redeemed by a searing commitment to love. This is a really powerful book. It cuts right to the bone. – Jaed Coffin, author of Roughhouse Friday

This psychologically probing novel, about a fisherman’s wife guiding her teenage sons through a family crisis, is a shockingly honest examination of both the destructive and healing properties of mother love. It kept me reading past bedtime. – Monica Wood, author of One and a Million Boy

Life in Susan Conley’s wondrous new novel Landslide is full of a nagging sense that the past was better than the future could ever be. But it’s full of sweetness, and hope, too. A funny, fond, and rueful take on what life on the Maine coast is like after the tourists leave, Landslide will stick with you, and leave you rooting for the flawed family at its heart, even when they sometimes find it hard to root for each other. An unforgettable book. – Brock Clarke, author of Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?