The Transition Network

New York City Chapter Event

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Tuesday, July 21, 2020, 3‑4pm EDT
Location: Online Webinar - Zoom ID sent 72 hours prior to event
Restricted to members only
Contact: Debbi Honorof

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TTN-NYC Chapter is hosting the first-ever virtual “TTN Reads” and all TTN chapter and national members are invited to join us on this unique literary journey. 

On July 21 at 3pm, Martha McPhee will host a webinar to introduce herself and her novel, talk about her inspiration for the book and how she researched it, and introduce you to some of the main characters. Martha will appear live from a room in her late grandmother’s home in New Jersey, where she has been living temporarily since March. Several important scenes from the book were set in this room and it still holds many of her grandmother’s prized possessions: clothes, hats, endless pictures of ancestors, sewing materials, greeting cards, a beaver fur and opera coats.

Then, on Tuesday, September 1 at 3 pm, once readers have had a chance to read the book, Martha will again appear on a webinar for a live discussion to hear readers’ comments and answer their questions. (Registration for the September webinar will open on July 22. Check back then.)

In between the two webinars, Book Club SIGs are encouraged to host smaller discussions about the book and Martha will send (through TTN emails) a variety of information to readers, including discussion questions, updates, and more. 

We look forward to having you accompany us on this incredibly special TTN virtual journey. 

More about AN ELEGANT WOMAN by Martha McPhee

A profound meditation on memory, history, and legacy, An Elegant Woman follows one woman over the course of the 20th century, taking the reader from a drought-stricken farm in Montana to a yellow Victorian in Maine; from the halls of a psychiatric hospital in London to a wedding gown fitting at Bergdorf Goodman; from a house in small town Ohio to a family reunion at a sweltering New Jersey pig roast. Framed by the narrator’s efforts to retell her grandmother’s journey—and understand her own—the novel is an evocative exploration of the stories we tell ourselves, and what we leave out.

 For more about author Martha McPhee, visit her website at

To order a copy of the book in a variety of formats, we recommend purchasing it from The Center for Fiction, a not-for-profit organization that financially supports local, independent bookstores. All hardcover books will include a bookplate signed by the author.

To order, click here:

The Los Angeles Times:
McPhee’s twist on the family saga is to add some metatextual layers to the story; she’s a novelist imagining a novelist who reimagines a family built on inventions.

The Boston Globe:
Calling her book “An Elegant Woman,” in which family lore conveys as much made-up grandeur as fact, is both fitting and ironic. For the elegant woman in question…embodies incessant self-invention…Throughout, the writing remains sharp, precise, and, yes, elegant…McPhee’s narrative swings back and forth in time, creating wide-angled panoramas followed by intimate closeups.

The Wall Street Journal:
Martha McPhee’s novel An Elegant Woman explores the archetypally American virtue of self-invention. To its redoubtable, shape-shifting matriarch, Thelma, the past exists to be molded and falsified in the pursuit of an ideal…This is a portrait of self-creation in the vein of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but without his disenchantment.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Isadora, the narrator of Martha McPhee’s fifth novel, “An Elegant Woman,” is a writer with deep curiosity about her family history. Fortunately, her grandmother — known, among other monikers, as Tommy, Katherine and Grammy — is a teller of endless tales, dashed here and there with truth…The novel’s finest pages are the ones set in Montana, where the sisters grow up against the backdrop of the American West…The writing is at its best in…tense moments, when no amount of name-changing can afford the characters any escape.

The New York Times Summer Reading List, 2020:
Martha McPhee is less interested in revealing family secrets than in probing the way insistently told lies can become a kind of truth. Partly inspired by McPhee’s grandmother’s own stories, AN ELEGANT WOMAN charts the course of a hardscrabble youth in the raw American West that’s deftly camouflaged by a prosperous, sophisticated Eastern adulthood.

Entertainment Weekly, The Hottest Books of Summer, 2020:
Martha McPhee has outdone herself with this irresistibly lively, worldly-wise, wonderfully imagined novel, wherein the American art of self-invention is explored with a clear eye to the price it exacts.  All the characters are richly realized–none more so than the narrator, who regards her family myths with amused skepticism, tenderness and a consistently engaging intelligence.

Material from, 13:43:06 January 22, 2021.
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