In 1983, Livvie Bliss leaves western North Carolina for New York City, armed with a degree in English and a small cushion of cash from a favorite aunt. Her goal is to launch a career in publishing, but also to live openly as a lesbian. A rough start makes Livvie think she should give up and head home, but then a new friend helps her land a job at a literary agency run by the formidable Bea Winston.
Bea hopes Livvie’s Southern charm and boyish good looks will help her bond with one of the agency’s most illustrious clients—the cranky Modernist writer Clio Hartt, an octogenarian recluse who accomplished just one great novel. When Livvie becomes Clio’s “girl Friday” and companion, the plan looks like it’s working: The two connect around their shared western North Carolina heritage, and their rapport gives Clio support and inspiration to think about publishing again.
But something isn’t quite right with Clio’s writing. And as Livvie learns more about Clio’s intimate relationship with playwright Flora Haynes, uncomfortable parallels emerge between Livvie’s own circle of friends and the drama-filled world of expatriate artists in Paris in the 1920s and ‘30s. In Clio’s final days, the writer shares a secret that could upend Livvie’s life—and the literary establishment.
Praise for Clio Rising:
“Paula Martinac has a gift for bringing different pasts to life. Her portrait of the difficult friendship between two women of contrasting generations is both generous and wise. An exploration of biographical mystery and responsibility, this fine novel is like an American answer to A. S. Byatt’s Possession.”
—Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters
“Martinac’s fictional magic reminds me why I love lesbian literature.”
—Lee Lynch, Lambda Literary Award finalist
“An intergenerational page turner…. Another brilliant novel by one of our most gifted writers.”
—Madeleine Olnek, writer-director, Wild Nights with Emily
Press coverage of Clio Rising:
Review of “Clio Rising” — 5 stars (Foreword Reviews, May/June 2019)
“Clio Rising” by Paula Martinac: A Secret (Reviews by Amos Lassen, May 2019)
“Clio Rising by Paula Martinac: Book Review” (The Lesbian Review, July 10, 2019)