Novels


In her raw yet elegant third novel, McPhee tells the story of a prominent Italian poet, Dante Sabato, and his romantic entanglement with two sisters, both American actresses, in post-war Italy. The novel is narrated by Dante: charming, intellectual, sex-obsessed—and in love with the idea of his own suicide. Dante delays his death once again to revel in a love triangle with sharp-witted, wisecracking, and, above all, beguiling Gladys and Prudence Godfrey who have come to Rome from North Dakota via Hollywood to seek their fortunes in the flourishing Italian film industry.

This is Jenny McPhee at her finest. Whether she is sketching the war-bruised Italian psyche as it brushes up against the puffed-up American dream of heroism, fantastically detailing the styles and locales of the late 1940s, or creating a sexual situation with spark, smoke, and fire, she is masterful in her prose, and her storytelling mesmerizes on every page.

 

PRAISE FOR A MAN OF NO MOON

A Book Sense Notable Book

“A Man of No Moon tells the surprising and labyrinthine story of Dante Sabato, the erudite and fascinating narrator of this novel with many obsessions—American movies, sex, Italy, literature, and suicide. McPhee’s prose is full of mordant humor and uncommon intelligence.” - Rene Steinke

“The combination of philosophy and perversion in A Man of No Moon is invigorating, as is its deep investigation of the link between beauty and mortality. This is a searching, gorgeously written, wonderfully dirty book.”
Matthew Sharpe

“In an evocation of late-1940s Italy with a tale of wartime survival woven throughout…McPhee’s writing is truly powerful.” 
The
New York Times Book Review

“‘A Man of No Moon’ is slender, rich with atmosphere, alive with lust and aphoristic barbs, and delightfully clever.” - The Oregonian

“McPhee’s latest excells in noirish atmosphere…[she] draws entertaingly on the pulp of the period and has the postwar dynamic of occupier and occupied down.” – Publishers Weekly

“McPhee’s novel is introspective, atmospheric…and achingly authentic.” 
Booklist




Veronica, a soap opera writer who is small, dark, and accommodating, has little in common with her older sister Lillian, a neuroscientist who is tall, blonde and intolerant.  Nevertheless, for the past fourteen years–since their mother moved to New Zealand–they have been meeting on the first Monday morning of every month at the Hungarian Pastry Shop on the Upper West Side. No Ordinary Matter begins on Valentine’s Day 2000, the twenty-fifth anniversary of their father’s death in a car crash.  During the sisters’ritual encounter at the neighborhood cafe, Lillian surprises Veronica with the announcement that she has succeeded in becoming pregnant – and that the father of her child is an “out-of-work” actor she picked up in a bar and who is none the wiser about his impending paternity. The ensuing story, which unravels over the course of Lillian’s pregnancy, involves a mysterious father, an estranged mother, a long lost brother, sisterhood, an impulsive marriage, a honeymoon, an annulment, three detectives, several car accidents, a musical, and incest. The fast-paced narrative full of coincidences and contingencies reads like the fictional equivalent of Chaos Theory and yet this fantastical world is rendered delightfully ordinary.  Ultimately, the novel explores the meaning of family and the competing, overlapping and intersecting roles that science, will, desire, accident, and chance play in shaping our lives. With No Ordinary Matter, Jenny McPhee’s fiction continues to be “an elegant inquiry into the randomness of love and the glory of fate.” (Entertainment Weekly)

PRAISE FOR NO ORDINARY MATTER

“No Ordinary matter is very funny. It’s also a profound description of how we’re all made crazy and sad and occasionally even wise by that extravagant kind of brain trauma known as life.” – Matthew Sharpe

“McPhee is astonishing–her storytelling makes me want to write (the highest praise another writer can offer). This is a whimsical, magical book.”
– Suzannne Finnamore

“Lively, fun, and smart, this story of two sisters coming to terms with their past–and with each other–is really a wonderful read.” – Elizabeth Strout

“So absurdly improbably that it can be swallowed whole: a wiffy spoof, nicely put together and hard to put down.”- Kirkus (starred review)

“Start to finish, this smart, lively novel keeps its eyes on the surprise. From a long-lost half-brother to the heady truth about a mysterious death, McPhee unleashes an ever-twisting plot that pops and crackles on the page.” – Bookpage

“Just as she accomplished with her first book The Center of Things, McPhee leaves you shaking your head in wonder at the end of No Ordinary Matter. It’s funny, sad, intellectual and hysterical. More than anything, McPhee makes it clear that she knows how to write smart, sexy, and intensely interesting characters. This book was a blast and a treat.” – Colleen Mondor, Bookslut



 

Nora Mars–glamour girl, star of stage and screen, b-movie goddess–has slowly aged out of mainstream popularity and quickly slipped into a coma. Known as much for her astonishing looks, her five husbands, and her way with words (“I’m all for love at first sight–it saves time”) as for her movie career, Nora Mars has been a tabloid’s dream diva. Marie Brown is everything that Nora is not: too tall, too plain, to unmarried, and always too early. But she also happens to be Nora’s number-one fan and knows enough to suse the star’s untimely near-death to advance her own career at the Gotham City Star by insisting on writing her obit. Along the way she meets the charismatic Rex Mars, Nora Mars’s husband number three, and struggles between reportorial integrity and plain old lust. But Marie also has a secret life: She spends every free moment at the libray, pursuing her fascination with physics. Here she meets the odd yet intriguing Marco Trentadue, a “freelance intellecutal” who wears blue pajamas and reminds Marie of Peter Lorre. While Marie is drawn more and more to Rex, she gradually finds Marco to be the stranger attractor.  Interweaving vignettes from Marie’s past, move lore and lines, and metaphorical physics, Jenny McPhee limns the randomness of everyday life, the conflicting pulls of libido and intellect, and the choices–conscious or not–that shape the search for love.

 

PRAISE FOR THE CENTER OF THINGS

A New York Times Notable Book

A Book Sense Pick

“A greatly intelligent work, entertaining, sometimes satirical, original, and inventive. Jenny McPhee is an unusually confident first novelist.”
– Muriel Spark

“In this smart, fast-paced metaphysical thriller, Jenny McPhee brings the insights of quantum mechanics to bear upon love stardom, and the baffling uncertainties of human behavior. The Center of Things is a brilliant debut by a writer of exceptional talent and promise.”- Amitav Ghosh

“An engaging novel about big ideas in physics and big scandals in show business.” – The New York Times Book Review

“A jolly read–McPhee’s characters are wonderfully weird…Romance mingles with mind-swelling musings on superclusters and string theory. The end equation is an elegant inquiry into the randomness of love and the glory of fate.”
Entertainment Weekly

“A smart novel of love, lust, and life’s miraculous randomness.”
– O, The Oprah Magazine

“It takes guts for a debut novelist to mix such disparate subjects as abstruse science, philosophy, movies, and the single life in  New York City, but McPhee takes the risk with brio and acquits herself  with elan…McPhee’s style is lean and frisky, and her novel is teasing, funny, and intriguing…One starts to read with a smile, appreciating the skill with which McPhee creates a      satisfying romantic glow…The novel’s offbeat charm will distinguish Jenny McPhee as an accomplished writer with her own distinctive style.”- Publishers Weekly

“With Marie, McPhee has created a warm and likable character, a protagonist whose flaws we grow protective of, a woman whose many mysteries intrigue.”
Book Magazine

“Original, richly comic, and very clever.” – The Trenton Times

“McPhee is a talented, graceful, and often sardonic writer…[this book is] for all fiction collections with intelligent readers.” – Library Journal

“This dense, witty debut novel, a kind of mystery, steers its self-doubting heroine between the demands of lust and intellectual fulfillment.” – Daily News