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Extended Audio Sample So Much a Part of You, by Polly Dugan Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Polly Dugan Narrator: Sandy Rustin Publisher: Hachette Book Group Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Two young women who’ve dated the same man navigate love, destiny, loss, and choice in this powerful debut.

Anna Riley and Anne Cavanaugh have had a lover in common, but it’s not until a pivotal moment in one of their lives that their paths unforgettably converge. “Beautiful and connected in unexpected ways,” (Jodi Angel), the linked stories in So Much a Part of You “read like whispered secrets” (Scott Nadelson).

Peter Herring was the center of Anne’s universe in college, and now, a few years later, he’s become the center of Anna’s, and merely a minor player in his ex-girlfriend’s world. That is, until Peter and Anna are invited into Anne’s parents’ home to visit with her dying mother, and he finds himself drawn back into her orbit. Years later, when her own mother is dying, Anna will find herself yearning to reach out to Anne, with whom she had shared such a brief but intimate bond, and find solace in that moment from long ago.

Perspective evolves with time, and so with time, what Peter means to each woman—as lover, as friend, as connection to the past—also evolves. Through exploring Anne’s and Anna’s ties to Peter and unfolding the narratives of the people who weave meaningfully in and out of their lives, Polly Dugan reveals the power of family secrets, the ripple effects of her characters’ emotional choices, and how poignantly their intertwined relationships shape who they are and how they love.

Possessing that rare ability to write the sweep of emotion with tenderness, Polly Dugan invites readers to witness the moments that define her characters—the moments that come back full circle to comfort or haunt them, or both. So Much a Part of You will break your heart and still have you asking for more.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This debut is a collection of short stories that tell a tale along a long and circuitous route. At first, the stories seem completely unrelated, until you realize that often the main characters are secondary in some of the other stories. The prose is gorgeous.”

    RT Book Reviews

  • “In the ten  stories of this cycle, you will meet Anna Riley, Anne Cavanaugh, Peter Herring, and their families and friends in a variety of American cities, spanning the years from the Depression to the late twentieth century. Strong characterization and acute rendering of settings provide glimpses into the successes and sorrows of these middle-class Irish Catholics…Although short story fans are a natural audience for this promising debut, it will also appeal to general fiction readers.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • Dugan makes a solid debut with this collection of ten interconnected short stories that involve two women, college friends Anna Riley and Anne Cavenaugh, and Peter Herring, a man in both their lives…Dugan’s writing flows well and with thoughtfulness as she explores love, loss, and friendship through the three main characters and their families.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “As the narratives explore love, faith, betrayal, joy, friendship, and tragedy, they highlight how choices made by parents influence their offspring so indelibly. With decisive economy and the dramatic immediacy lent by her use of the present tense, Dugan’s powerful stories present a fast-paced, cohesive, and satisfying read.”

    Library Journal

  • “A debut collection that could practically pass for a novel; almost all the stories feature members of a single family through three generations, focusing on Anna Riley as she grows from childhood equestrienne to wife and mother…Not surprisingly, Dugan is at work on a novel, which readers will eagerly anticipate after reading this promising collection.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “This is what short story should be: exact and faithful invocations, full of nerve and stranded emotion, which leave eddying waves of thought and strangeness that linger long after the covers are closed shut. The stories are simultaneously eerie and poignant. They achieve a cool distance and the captured moment, the effect of which is how lonely and alien we can be to ourselves and together. The pathway to the heart is through the mind. I think of such writers as Joy Williams and Ann Beattie, only more spare and more raw and who, in their own way, were more spare and raw than O’Connor and Welty.”

    Robert Olmstead, award winning author of Coal Black Horse

  • “Polly Dugan makes the greatest deal the best of literature can offer—she will be honest, completely bare, and deliver a reader wholly into the secret world of her character’s empathy. What a powerful and glorious thing it was to become these characters, to have my worldview touched by their lives. It’s a rare skill to write pain with such love, such care, such warmth, and like Alice Munro and Elizabeth Strout, Polly Dugan has achieved a small miracle in breaking my heart and still having me ask for more. So Much a Part of You announces a potent and fresh new voice to the landscape of short fiction."

    Alan Heathcock, author of Volt

  • “There's a rawness to Polly Dugan’s stories that lure you in and won’t let go. The settings may be every day, but So Much a Part of You lingers in the imagination."

    Lucinda Rosenfeld, author of The Pretty One

  • “Polly Dugan’s stories read like whispered secrets. With their quiet drama, their nuanced internal conflicts, their characters full of longing, they immerse us in the messy mysteries of ordinary lives. But their vision is clear-headed and generous: they show us that even our briefest connections, our smallest actions, our most private thoughts can have great weight and consequence.”

    Scott Nadelson, author of Aftermath

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