“Jill Bialosky wrote a real page-turner that weaves together love, desire, parenthood, and art. Trust me—The Deceptions is a book you won’t be able to put down.”— Katie Couric
Something terrible has happened and I don’t know what to do.
An unnamed narrator’s life is unraveling. Her only child has left home, and her twenty-year marriage is strained. Anticipation about her soon-to-be-released book of poetry looms. She seeks answers to the paradoxes of love, desire, and parenthood among the Greek and Roman gods at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. As she passes her days teaching at a boys’ prep school, spending her off-hours sequestered in the museum’s austere galleries, she is haunted by memories of a yearlong friendship with a colleague, a fellow poet struggling with his craft. As secret betrayals and deceptions come to light and rage threatens to overwhelm her, the pantheon of gods assume remarkably vivid lives of their own, forcing her to choose between reality and myth in an effort to free herself from the patriarchal constraints of the past and embrace a new vision for her future.
The Deceptions is a page-turning and seductively told exploration of female sexuality and ambition as well as a human drama that dares to test the stories we tell ourselves. It is also a brilliant investigation of a life caught between the dueling magnetic poles of privacy and its appropriation in art and literature. Celebrated poet, memoirist, and novelist Jill Bialosky has reached new and daring heights in her boldest work yet.
“Jill Bialosky wrote a real page-turner that weaves together love, desire, parenthood, and art. Trust me—The Deceptions is a book you won’t be able to put down. ”— Katie Couric
“Bialosky urgently captures the moment in an adult’s life when reflection leads to regret, and a desire to recapture the promise of one’s youth becomes a kind of desperation. A vulnerable and searching tale of art, myth, and mortality.”— Oprah Daily
“Throughout The Deceptions, the author is willing to confront nuance, more than one way of looking at something and the lies people tell themselves, as well as others. As is noted while contemplating one statue of Heracles, pathos is an important aspect of this novel. Emotions are both acknowledged and projected. The Deceptions is an engrossing, engaging novel … It is a novel that can stay with the reader for a very long time.”— Daily Kos
“There is nary a word out of place in The Deceptions, and there are long stretches of prose where nearly every sentence carries an almost electric charge … Superb.”— The East Hampton Star
“A complex exploration of consent and violation, sexuality and ambition … With the assured hand of a sculptor, Bialosky excavates the all-too-relatable dilemma of whether to face searing realities or bury ourselves in myth.”— Ruth Madievsky, BOMB
“A poet as well as a novelist, Bialosky deftly balances these vast universal questions with tight descriptions of personal, arresting images. The result is a pressing, mesmerizing novel that explores the intense emotional journey of a writer, teacher, and mother grappling with the shifts in these identities in the aftermath of betrayal … [T]he photographs add to the immersive sense of the physical space. Even more, the narrator’s readings of these pieces of art are beautiful and made all the more so because we can follow along … Bialosky employs a subtle framework in the novel featuring the narrator’s book that pays off beautifully when this shapes the end of the story. Even without the promising literary framing, the novel is an unforgettable read … Bialosky elevates the ordinary with her exceptional attention to detail and her poignant observations.”— Ceillie Clark-Keane, Ploughshares
“The writing is superb and specific while the character is real and interesting, which promises something worth finishing to the end. Bialosky has a way of inserting information in her text with such precision and authority that’s hard not to be admired while reading … Bialosky is a master of the craft and shows off her talents in this latest work. It is a story about deception in all forms, but it’s also about acceptance and forgiving yourself so there is room for hope.”— Clarissa Chesanek, The Brooklyn Rail
“Poetry and inspiration, obsession and divinity, all come under Bialosky’s purview in her elegantly constructed fable of trying to create while everything else falls apart.”— Ed Simon, The Millions, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year
“A stunning tale of entitlement, betrayal, creativity, and true power.”— Booklist
“Bialosky (The Prize) contests patriarchal notions about life, marriage, and art…Bialosky’s sensuous evocation of longing and regret will no doubt linger in readers’ minds.”— Publishers Weekly
“The great Greeks — Odysseus, Heracles, Aphrodite, and, centrally, Leda and the swan — circle around this powerfully written account of a woman in a kind of slow crisis and help her interrogate her marriage and desires. Then, in an extraordinary, explosive final act, a profound act of betrayal lifts the novel toward genuine tragedy. The Deceptions is a deeply felt and formally original tour de force.”— Salman Rushdie
“At once classical and contemporary, Jill Bialosky’s powerful new novel weaves together themes of art and life, sexuality and family, gender dynamics and selfhood. The Deceptions is urgent, unsettling, and utterly consuming — a triumph.”— Claire Messud
“In stunning, finely tuned prose, Bialosky captures the music of marriage and the complexity of female ambition, sexual hunger, and rage in her newest novel. Myth, archetype, and history come to life in The Deceptions, and in the end we are returned to the present and the question of what it is to be human, to risk, to fail, to suffer the pain of love.”— A.M. Homes