In the post-holiday rush, sometimes one only has time for a quick paragraph of reading before it’s once again off to work. Here are the first lines of Kyra: A Novel, which I am reviewing for the San Francisco Chronicle, out mid-month.

“What is the opposite of losing?

It was the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and we were playing chess. Felicia Blumenthal had invited the strays to her home on Francis Avenue–an old habit, hospitality to strangers, made urgent for her generation by the war. He was her cousin, ‘much removed,’ she said, laughing, as she brought him over to where I was standing in the blue dining room balancing a plate of turkey, and when I asked him what he was thankful for, his eyes registered surprise and he said, ‘This,’ meaning the lunch. He had come in from London the night before, he was leaving the next morning for Chicago. I had come from my studio wearing a long black skirt and white shirt. He stepped back and looked at me. ‘A flutist or an oboe player?’ he asked. I had always wanted to play the oboe.”

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