During a vacation in Rome, the Murphy family experiences a life-altering tragedy. In the immediate aftermath, James, Nora, and their children find solace in their Massachusetts coast home, but as the years pass the weight of the loss disintegrates the increasingly fragile marriage and leaves its mark on each family member. Trompe l Oeil seamlessly alternates among several characters points of view, capturing the details of their daily lives as well as their longing for connection and fear of abandonment. Through the turbulence of marriage, the challenges of parenthood, job upheavals, and calamities large and small, Trompe l Oeil examines family legacies, the ways those legacies persist, and the ways they might be transcended. Nancy Reisman is a master of psychological acuity, creating characters who are wholly unique and yet express our own longings and anxieties. Trompe l Oeil haunts not only with its story but also with the beauty of its insight into hopes, desires, and fears."
A realistic and gorgeously written story...""Library Journal" "An eloquent exploration, from several perspectives, of one family s life following unimaginable loss.""Booklist" "In "Trompe l'Oeil" Nancy Reisman has created something amazing and mysterious: a portrait of a family that is also a portrait of how that family lives in the aftermath of grief. With wonderful skill and intelligence she shows us the Murphys over more than two decades as both parents and children finally step into their own lives. Their journey, the portraits of their journey, are deepened by Reisman's vivid sense of place and framed by her exquisite descriptions of paintings. This is a beautiful and deeply satisfying novel." Margot Livesey, author of "The Flight of Gemma Hardy" "Nancy Reisman's mesmerizing "Trompe l'Oeil" is itself a magic trick. A dead child resists all erasure, while the most substantial-seeming family dissolves. Houses vanish when one's back is turned. Carefully charting the contours of absence, in prose as wise as it is beautiful, Reisman shows us that loss is a presence, another way to trick the eye and the heart."Susan Choi, author of "My Education" What I have always admired about Nancy Reisman's writing is how absolutely gorgeous it is, and in "Trompe l'Oeil" her writing astonishes me even more. She writes about the weight of loss with beauty and honesty and grace. Simply a beautiful novel. Ann Hood, author of "An Italian Wife" ""Trompe l'Oeil" is perfect for book clubs because it offers so much fodder for discussion: How do we define 'fault'? When does a house change from being a home to being a trap? Is it inevitable that children born after the death of a sibling will be considered mere replacements for the one lost? Nancy Reisman, in this gentle, tragic novel, makes the reader feel as one with the Murphy familyliving, grieving, falling aparttheir trajectory inevitable. Or is it?"Georgia Court, Bookstore 1 Sarasota Praise for "The First Desire" Nancy Reisman has written a book in which the sentences are so lush, the characters are so vivid, and the story is so compelling, I felt I had stepped inside the world she created and had taken up residence. I want to tell you how much I loved it there. "The First Desire" is not a book to be merely read. It is a book to be lived. Ann Patchett, author of "Bel Canto" "Reisman's first novel (after the prize-winning collection, "House Fires") is mesmerizing . Reisman demonstrates a rare, poetic understanding of family dynamics [and] writes with beauty and precise imagery . This realism, subtly laced with tenderness and compassion, distinguishes a novel whose addictive embrace continues after the last page has been turned." "Publishers Weekly" ""The First Desire" is both lovely and heartbreaking." "The New York Times" A debut of luminous, distinctive quality. . . . This is a writer quietly taking her own bold course, and to travel with her as she does is a joy." "The Boston Globe" Haunting. . . . Reisman's genius [is having] produced a book that generates its own world and holds the reader captive, willingly, to its landscape. Reisman creates this miracle through the power of her writing. "San Francisco Chronicle" Only fiction can feel as real as thisand only in the right hands. . . . You needn t be from Buffalo to be swept away by "The First Desire." You need only be from a family. "USA Today" "A book of rhythms and reveries . . . rich in atmosphere. . . . "The First Desire" is a mystery story, left unsolved because the mystery is identity itself." "The New York Times Book Review" A continuing testament to the paradoxical ease with which family ties unravel. . . . Intensely affecting and thought-provoking. "Washington Post Book World" Accomplished. . . . Reisman s sumptuous prose, and her canny knowledge of the corrosive ways an average family can come apart, make "The First Desire" a lovely, absorbing companion. "Entertainment Weekly" (editor s choice) A superb new writer. . . . Reisman, whose sensually charged, often outright stunning style strongly evokes Virginia Woolf . . . proves herself a rare master of internal drama, able to isolate the moment that effects a sea change within a lifetime of compromise. "Vogue" Reisman s hypnotic prose makes her . . . characters live. And her sympathy and wealth of detail make the Cohens world our own: specific, inescapably flawed, unpredictably meaningful and very, very real. "People""
Nancy Reisman's debut novel, "The First Desire," was a "New York Times" Notable Book and a recipient of the Goldberg Award from the Foundation for Jewish Culture. Her story collection, "House Fires," won the Iowa Award for Short Fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including "Tin House, Glimmer Train, the Yale Review, SubTropics, Michigan Quarterly Review, Kenyon Review, Five Points, Narrative, The Best American Short Stories" (2001), and "The O'Henry Award Stories" (2005). Reisman has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Commission on the Arts, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She teaches at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, TN.