cover image The Mother Act

The Mother Act

Heidi Reimer. Dutton, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-47372-6

Reimer debuts with a propulsive and affecting mother-daughter story set in New York City’s theater world. Actor Sadie Jones ascends to stardom in the 1980s’ guerrilla feminist theater scene. When she meets British Shakespearean actor Damian Linnen during his visit to one of her rehearsals, the two are instantly attracted to each other. Though Damian is engaged, it becomes clear that the question is not whether he will leave his fiancée for Sadie, but when. The narrative then shifts back and forth from the ’80s to the present, as Damian and Sadie’s daughter, Jude, comes into her own as an actor. It soon emerges that she grew up barely knowing Sadie, and mostly spent her youth traveling with Damian for his career. Reimer gradually doles out the details of Damian and Sadie’s relationship, as well as the conservative Christian background Sadie turned her back on as a young woman, prompting her to vow never to have children. Questions about what made Sadie have a child after all, and why Jude grew up apart from her, drive the narrative as Sadie performs a one-woman play called The Mother Act and prepares to reunite with her daughter for Jude’s upcoming wedding. Reimer’s insights on art, feminism, and motherhood add to the intrigue. This is worthy of a standing ovation. Agent: Arielle Datz, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary. (Apr.)