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  • She Writes Press News: Announcing Bittersweet Manor by Tory McCagg
She Writes Press News: Announcing Bittersweet Manor by Tory McCagg
Written by
Cait Levin
July 2013
Written by
Cait Levin
July 2013

After a four month estrangement, thirty-two-year-old Emma Michaels returns to The Harbor View Assisted Living Home to tell her grandmother that she is selling her inheritance: the family property. Gussie, however, intends to move back. On the dock of Poquatuck Village, Connecticut, looking across the harbor to their ancestral home, the two women debate. Their conversation lays the framework for the book, which flows back over the decades to Gussie's youth and marriage, and the lives of her three children, Auggie, Livy and Alyssa whose hopes and talents are warped by Gussie's influence and disappointed expectations. Expectations passed down through the generations. Subtle. Unspoken. Implacable. They are why Emma gave up, at age twenty, her life's passion, a career in ballet: she thought she was not good enough. Twelve years later, Emma finds out that she had been, only her grandmother had not told her.

As Emma and Gussie remember their family's life choices and dynamic relationships, within the context of the place that kept them together, Emma prepares to do what no one in her family has dared: let go of the past to make room for the future, though doing so will destroy the only thing her grandmother holds dear.

BITTERSWEET MANOR chronicles the passage of love, personality, and entitlement through three generations of the Michaels, an upper-middle class New England family. Manipulation and deceit. Alcoholism. Marital disaster. Inherited money isn't all it's cracked up to be.

A graduate of Connecticut College, Tory earned her M.F.A. from Emerson College's writing program in 1989; her thesis and novel Shards won the Graduate Dean's Award. In February 1997, "Earthquake Weather" was a semi-finalist in the Tara Fellowships/Heekin Foundation. She has won two honorable mentions: one for "Enology" in 1998 (A. E. Coppard Prize for Fiction, White Eagle Coffee Store Press); the other for "Chain Material" in 2001 (Lorien Hemenway Short Story Competition).  In 1999, "Roots", a chapter in Bittersweet Manor, was a semi-finalist in the New Millennium awards VIII contest. She is an accomplished flutist and a social activist, working for Common Cause RI, a government reform organization. She is currently working on a non-fiction book, Darwin's View: A Writer's Perhaps Quixotic Venture in Off-Grid Living, alternatively A Quest for Home; and a novel with the working title Angell Street Daze.  You can see and read more about Tory at her website www.torymccagg.com or her blog at www.darwinsview.com

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