Old Flame is the lyrical, unerring exploration of one woman’s path to finding herself in the midst of our chaotic world. Emily is a corporate ad writer who longs to write, who craves both relationship and freedom, who is paralyzed to act while youthfully in motion. Through her, Prentiss considers the struggles between work and art, motherhood and self, living and being alive, and all the contradictions therein. It is bright, messy, funny, infuriating, and-oh-so truthful.
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The author of the “ethereal and brutally realistic” (The New York Times) Tuesday Nights in 1980 returns with a highly anticipated new novel exploring what it means to be a woman in her many forms—daughter, friend, partner, lover, and mother.
Emily writes for women’s catalogs for a living, but she’d rather be writing books. She has a handsome photographer boyfriend, but she actively wonders how and when they will eventually hurt each other. Her best work friend Megan is her lifeline, until Megan is abruptly laid off. When her world is further upended by an unplanned pregnancy, Emily is forced to make tough decisions that will change her life forever.
What will she sacrifice from her old life to make room for a new one? What fires will she be forced to extinguish, and which will keep burning? Old Flame is a story about the essential—and often existential—choices that define a woman’s life at every level, from which dress to wear to when to have a child to how to be in the world.
About the Author
Molly Prentiss is the author of Old Flame and Tuesday Nights in 1980, which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and shortlisted for the Grand Prix de Littérature Américaine in France. Her writing has been translated into multiple languages. She lives in Red Hook, New York, with her husband and daughter. You can find her at Molly-Prentiss.com or on Instagram @MollyPrentiss.
“Enthralling . . . [T]here are echoes of Elena Ferrante . . . ‘Old Flame’ is that rare novel whose author – as well as her protagonist – gains wisdom and authority as the story unfolds, never failing to remind us that while loss and grief are inescapable, joy and fulfillment are possible.” —The New York Times Book Review
“[A] confident, bittersweet new novel . . . As much as this work is about friendships, relationships and motherhood, it is also a book about writing . . . Prentiss captures well the excitement of collaboration and how it engenders creativity.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Prentiss writes with astounding electric, brutal precision about many topics--motherhood, Italy, the pursuit of art, female friendship and, the big one of course, love. This [book] is really good . . . Become the star of your book club for recommending this remarkable novel.” —The Mountains
“Prentiss has a gift for crafting complex characters, and her insight on the mixed emotions around adoption and unexpected pregnancy ring true throughout. With plenty of charm and drama, Prentiss keeps readers turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly
“[An] introspective, energetic novel . . . Prentiss’ writing is lively and dynamic . . . [T]he intimate distress, yearning, grief, and laughter she evokes makes the novel seem like her protagonist's memoir, resulting in a tale that grants readers a sense of connection, hope, and comfort.”—Booklist
“[W]restles with the binaries of art versus motherhood, chosen family versus found family, and social expectation versus authenticity . . . Prentiss’ prose is energetic and inventive.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A stylish and sharp look at one woman’s attempt to balance the competing interests of her work and life. A balm for anyone overwhelmed with contradictory desires.” – Kiley Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Such a Fun Age
“Molly Prentiss is a deeply empathic noticer who never fails to articulate the brutal, beautiful unseen elements of life. The kind of writing that elicits that involuntary kind of moan of recognition.”—Marie-Helene Bertino, author of 2am at the Cat's Pajamas and Parakeet
"Old Flame is amazing—a warmhearted and luminous page-turner about desire, time, love, parenthood, work, and art in women’s lives. What a woman invents of herself, what the world demands she be, and the stories she tells to find her many selves across a lifetime are considered with both the scorching verve of Elena Ferrante and the frank humor of Maria Semple. This unforgettable book is a love letter to love itself, to how hard and wonderful life is, and to finding home, in all its thrilling, changing forms, ever mysterious and known." —Sophie McManus, author of The Unfortunates
"Old Flame asks all the important questions: What if women are people? What if relinquishment of the Self is a good thing? How does a person make good on the past while charting a future? What does it mean to no longer be young?" —Elisa Albert, author of Human Blues