The novel “Swallow” enters into us deeply as women, as we all swallow our words of confrontation and anger – and find ourselves outside the labyrinth of self. “Swallow” presents on several levels, and anticipates it own multi-dimensions; metaphor, psychology, reality and inner fear. As Tonya Plank works her setting, the grit and grime as well as the glitter of NYC emanates from every pore and page of the book.
Idealistic attorney Sophie Hegel has recently graduated from Yale Law School. Everything in her life glows: her boyfriend Stephen (Harvard, Princeton, Yale Law), is older, worldly, has a high power job at a prestigious law firm – and has chosen small town girl Sophie to be his wife. Stephen has well placed and high powered friends. Sophie has landed the job of her dreams as an intern fellowship with the NYC Public Defenders’ Office as an appellate attorney. Sophie’s friends Sami, Francie and artist Thom adore her. But something is very wrong. As Sophie treads water, floating tenuously above at her newly appointed post, she begins to sink into the whirlpool of NYC’s snobby and money-driven veneer. An old childhood illness reappears. Sophie literally cannot swallow and chokes as she tries to speak or eat.. Diagnosed with Globus Sensate, the condition, while psychologically based, is very real. Sophie falters, as her oral arguments end in fainting spells and botched assignments. Her weight dips precariously, as she bobs into the deep end of the psychological pool. As the Fist Ball in her throat presses into her, she seeks out a psychologist, Dr. Ames, who simply listens. As Sophie’s career, body size and personal life diminishes, she demands an answer from Dr. Ames.
The story emerges. Caught within the web of a family that Sophie cannot relate to, she begins to address the problems with her father, who produces porn films, her trailer trash sister, Bebe, and her martyred mother. As Sophie begins to speak up and tell the truth – to her friends, to Stephen, to her family and co-workers, the Fist Ball begins to contract.
Tonya Plank has written a novel about a woman coming of age at thirty; about moral and psychological integrity, with strong sentiments on male/female relationships between father and daughters and the
undercurrents that appear in love and social relationships within those dynamics. This is not just regional, women’s fiction – it transcends any genre. As the layers unravel like an onion, I fell into Sophie’s world most intently. Ms. Plank’s first novel is a brilliant show of even greater things to come. She is an author to watch and follow. I know her next novel will be even more brilliant than this one, if that is possible.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale:
Overall: 4.95 (just to encourage Ms. Plank to write her second novel – SOON)
Great novel, frothy and bubbly like good champagne with a touch of angel martinis!
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of Swallow for this book review. We were in no way compensated and all opinions are strictly our own.