Over the course of one fateful day, Trisha Donahue begins to reclaim her courage and discovers secrets in a familiar place. A surprising, quietly dramatic adventure story infused with Ellen Cooney’s warm humor and wisdom.
After years of skilled work and dedication, Trisha Donahue is denied a well-earned promotion by her company’s male executives, who give it instead to an underqualified man. Devastated, forty-four-year-old Trisha begins to reckon with the demands that exhaust her, the injustices that confront her, and the ways she has betrayed herself “just to fit in” with coworkers who resent and belittle her abilities. But at the Rose & Emerald—a unique rural restaurant Trisha has loved since childhood—her company’s annual Banquet Day sets in motion a surprising adventure, revealing unexpected allies, hidden passageways, and an interstellar secret. Encouraged by a vivid cast of characters, from sympathetic coworkers to the mysterious employees of the fabled Rose & Emerald, Trisha makes a decision that will change her professional and personal life forever. From acclaimed author Ellen Cooney, A Cowardly Woman No More is a lively, luminous novel about a wife, mom, and career woman who brings herself first nervously, then more and more bravely, through a monumental transformation.
Ellen Cooney is the author of nine previous novels, including The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances (Mariner Books, 2015). Her stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Ontario Review, New England Review, and many other journals, and were anthologized several times in TheBest American Short Stories. She has received fellowships from the National Foundation for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and has taught creative writing at Boston College, the Harvard Extension School, and, most recently, as writer in residence at MIT. A native of Massachusetts, she lives on the Phippsburg Peninsula in mid-coast Maine.
Praise for A Cowardly Woman No More
Publishers Weekly, "Best Books of 2023"
“This elegant and off-kilter upending of the office novel sings.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“The book unspools, with grace, humor, and perceptive depth, over the course of a single ordinary, extraordinary day. It is, in part, an office novel, and Cooney nails the soul-dulling absurdity of certain working lives. And it is, in part, a much stranger and more magical thing. . . . Cooney’s great skill as we press against the limits of the real is that we are with her in every moment; her language is unshowy, matter-of-fact, human, and she is also open—and opens us—to the inexplicable, the wild magic, the stuff we can’t make sense of all the way.” —Nina MacLaughin, The Boston Globe
“Cooney is remarkably adept at capturing minute inner crises within an individual and the imperfect but real connections between people. . . . A shining exploration of human frailty and endurance.” —Kirkus
“The novel’s memorable effects derive from Trisha’s voice, attitude and values. . . . For Trisha, not being ‘a cowardly woman’ involves something more than specifying her displeasures. The engaging directness of her narrative—its spokenness, sharpness of vision and recall, and willingness to place an exclamation point at the end of a sentence when she amazes herself—comprises her bravery.” —Ron Slate, On the Seawall
“A Cowardly Woman No More is a feminist novel, but it’s more than a Me Too tale on gender equity and equality. It asks us to look closely at ourselves and wonder if we’ve let daily living take the joy out of life. . . . Trisha speaks from one woman’s soul to another.” —Lorraine Kleinwaks, Enchanted Prose
“A truly lovely read, funny at times, poignant, and an interesting portrait of a type of person I’m sure we all have met, or maybe actually are.” —Davida Chazan, TCL Review
“I have been a fan of Ellen Cooney’s for years, and she is in undeniably brilliant form once again here. Masterfully told, full of surprise, built from unforgettable sentences that sing, whisper, or shout, A Cowardly Woman No More is utterly compelling from its first fiery comet of a page to its last.” —Laird Hunt
Selected praise for One Night Two Souls Went Walking
NPR, “Favorite Books of 2020” Newsweek, “Must-Read Fall Books” Kirkus, “Best Fiction of 2020” Bustle, “Best Books of Fall 2020” The Millions, “Most Anticipated: Fall 2020”
“Shimmering, remarkable. . . . A triumph of a novel, and one that arrives at the perfect time.” —Michael Schaub, NPR
“Cooney's warm and hopeful novel is a salve for these times.” —Juliana Rose Pignataro, Newsweek
“Wise and warm. . . . This is a quiet book, steady, gentle, present, one that grapples with the matter-of-fact here and now, and wades, with bravery and wonder, into the mysteries that make us human.” —Nina MacLaughlin, The Boston Globe
“The perfect novel to combat pandemic angst. ” —Kirkus, starred review
“Cooney’s novel expands the concept of what’s possible, imagining hope where there is none and pointing always toward the light.” —Mari Carlson, BookPage, starred review
“Takes place over the course of a night shift at an urban medical center whose cavernous immensity—‘steel and glass and stone, lights muted in the deep surround of the dark’—gives it the feel of a modern-day cathedral. . . . The word ‘soul’ is a frequent presence in this novel, a kind of familiar spirit.” —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
“Now, more than ever, we need to be reminded that hope prevails—and this novel does exactly that.” —Carolyn Quimby, The Millions