Read The Best Place to Be by Lesley Dormen Online


"I looked out the window and was filled with contentment. I was on a train. There was no landscape, ugly or beautiful, to demand my attention . . . None of the passengers within my view were badly dressed. I had the right book with me . . . I was happily married but alone, nothing in the immediate past to regret, nothing in the immediate future to fear. In between -- the b"I looked out the window and was filled with contentment. I was on a train. There was no landscape, ugly or beautiful, to demand my attention . . . None of the passengers within my view were badly dressed. I had the right book with me . . . I was happily married but alone, nothing in the immediate past to regret, nothing in the immediate future to fear. In between -- the best place to be."At fifty, Grace Hanford has lived long enough to be a daughter, a stepdaughter, a girlfriend, a sister, a sister-in-law, a wife, a stepmother, and an orphan. She has fallen in and out of love -- with troublesome men, with her glamorous mother, with her wild best friend, and with New York City -- more times than she can count. Still, Grace is more comic than melancholic, and a gifted confessor. She lives life as if every day is a movie in which her role is yet to be determined -- and her audience loves her for it.In "The Best Place to Be," we follow Grace from her fatherless childhood through her years at an all-girls college to adulthood in the city and her many dating escapades (and escapes) as an urban sophisticate. Wherever she may be, Grace tries to find her place in the world with humor and the blunt surprise of truth. And always, in the background, there is Grace's mother, brother, and the man she could or might or will call husband, out of reach -- until she reaches.In the tradition of Melissa Bank's "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, The Best Place to Be" is at once funny, moving, and deeply provocative, a love letter to the self-determined woman that shimmers with hilarious insight and graceful wit....

Title : The Best Place to Be
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781416532613
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Best Place to Be Reviews

  • Abby Peck
    2019-03-01 09:11

    These connected stories felt more like connected thoughts and not all that interesting ones. I realized the stories weren't in chronological order and all that did was make her whining about being single and lonely less bearable because you knew she ended up with someone eventually.

  • Naomi
    2019-03-02 16:07

    I picked up The Best Place to Be since it was short and I wanted something easy to read on a trip I recently took. It was indeed quite easy to read, but I always put it down feeling a little sad, but not in a good way (there is a good way, right?). The descriptor on the book cover calls it "a novel in stories", which is true. Each chapter is a story about Grace, a woman who moved to New York City for college and stayed into adulthood. Each chapter tells a different story from Grace's life, though not in chronological order. I found it hard to connect with Grace; she seems ungrateful and petulant at times. The chapters were nice in that they were fairly contained stories and so it was easy to put the book down after a few minutes of reading and finishing each one, but they weren't cohesive enough for me to stay interested. All in all, not a fun read, but at least filled some down time while on vacation and made me feel thankful for all the positive relationships I have in my own life.

  • Barbara
    2019-02-22 08:51

    These stories are pretty loosely connected, so it's more a book of short stories than it is a novel, and some stories are better than others. (I like the title story best.)I really like Leslie Dorman's voice. I feel like she would be an interesting, intelligent friend. Here is my favorite passage:"I was happily married but alone, nothing in the immediate past to regret, nothing in the immediate future to fear. In between- the best place to be."I thought I was the only one who would think that way, and I don't have the talent to phrase it as she did.

  • Kerrilynn Pamer
    2019-03-10 11:49

    Just read this in an afternoon. I know the author and think she's wonderful. This novel makes me think of her and smile, she comes across in this book as herself, a woman who has seen a lot and has wisdom and inspiration to offer up to younger women. So readable and so enjoyable, just like her.

  • Taije Silverman
    2019-02-23 16:16

    wickedly funny, sad, self-aware, and delicious. The morphologies of a city, love, and self happen around and inside each other through the voice of a narrator who has renewed my affection for irony.

  • Jon
    2019-03-01 14:12

    I came to this collection sight unseen, and I am happy to have read it. The first couple of stories were especially exquisite, managing to do the usual contemporary story thing not so much with original flair as with sheer skill. Those early stories left me feeling as if I were reading the work of a master whose talent was so genuine, so impressive, that there really is a reason some people go on to find publishing success and others, while good writers, do not. Dormen's every word and phrase was fun to follow, and at the end of the story, chills ran through my body on what seemed a very simple turn of phrase. It's something I don't quite understand, the mystery of that chill, how some people can illicit such a thing at the end of a story that hasn't really gone anywhere in terms of action-filled plot. And Dormen's does over and over, though not quite with every story in the collection.All the stories revolve around a singular character, a woman who remained single deep into her life and whose eventual marriage to a seemingly wonderful man is generally happy, though tinged with a certain amount of annoyance the longer it continues. The woman is a newspaper columnist and reporter, initially dispensing advice to single women but later just being the go-to on various subjects. She is the product of a single mother, whose three marriages each had the problems--the second man a seeming molester, the third a rich man who enables the mother's egregious spending (a habit her daughter emulates). The first is a man who has virtually now relationship with the woman and her brother until they are adults, which, in one story, is made to appear as if it were mostly the mother's fault. During the course of the stories, the mother dies, and the woman deals with her grief. In all, this is a portrait of a family as seen through the daughter's eyes.The first story in the collection is my favorite, but I'll write of that one separately. The second story and the last story are my favorites next to that. The second story revolves around the narrator's life as an older single, one who has made bad choices in dating and who now feels as if she has put herself in a position from which she can never return--single forever. The last story in the collection is, in essence, about aging, though in all the stories, the woman appears to be around fifty or just thereafter. In this story, though, she is somewhat less taken with her husband and yet also happy for the security his presence affords her. The cause of this deep thought about her marriage is a newspaper article she agrees to write about marriage researchers."Curvy" recounts Alex and his sister going to meet Irv, their biological father, and his wife. Alex resents Irv for leaving them; the sister, a bit older, seems more understanding and even has mixed feelings about him versus her mother. "The Secret of Drawing" focuses on the narrator's start at college and on her mother's second divorce and on her taking up with a third man and on the feelings the narrator has for the man she calls dad (that second husband). "I Asked My Mother" focuses on obsessive compulsive shopping. It's a short piece but exquisitely put together. "Gladiators" focuses on the siblings fighting one another over inheritance matters after their mother's death, and "General Strike" focuses on a Thanksgiving trip to Italy with her brother, his wife, and the narrator's husband. Here, one gets the feeling that the marriage is no longer so hot for the woman, but she is able to find some solace in reestablishing a relationship with her brother that reminds her of being young again.It is really the first story that sets the stage for all of the others, by denoting how there are times in life when we are truly happy and how those times are transitory. It is a happiness contrasted immediately with that second story, which seems much less hopeful but which chronologically precedes the events in the first story. Later, those first story events are in the past, and sadness slowly seems to be reaching in again. Transitory, indeed."The Old Economy Husband" is the first story in Lesley Dormen's linked collection, and it is the really highlight of the work. It is a love story, a love story about finding love later in life, in middle age, after all the bad decisions earlier in that dating life. And like so many stories in the collection, nothing much really happens, but the whole thing reads like a poem, a song, a hymn, to passion--and it is wonderful.

  • Anne
    2019-03-03 12:08

    4 stars for each individual story; 3 stars for the book as a wholeI first read Dormen's work in the December 2001 Atlantic Monthly (, as assigned by my wonderful writing teacher at the time, Greg Lichtenberg. [side note: If I could afford it, I would pay that man just to talk to me about fiction. If anyone gets a chance to take any kind of class with him anywhere, do it.] The story was "The Old Economy Husband," and while some of my classmates worried it was too bourgeois, I was utterly smitten by its style, voice, and narrator.My favorite writers give me words to describe an emotion I recognize immediately but, until that moment, was unable to articulate. Dormen's prose gives this gift again and again.The Best Place to Be opens with "The Old Economy Husband;" the stories that follow afford additional glimpses into first-person narrator Grace's life, from age 15-50. Dormen makes old-hat short story themes (the loss of a parent, the plight of a single woman among married friends) seem new again. And Grace's relationships with her brother, Alex; her best friend, Phoebe; and the changing landscape of Manhattan are vividly realized, each love obsessive in its own way. The order of events is not chronological, but it is purposeful. I've recently talked with several writer-friends about the pitfalls and pleasures of successfully bending narrative time, focusing on the "how and why" rather than the "what."While The Best Place to Be explores such hows and whys (and unravels layers of who) with gusto, I can't help but wish the book were longer, more fleshed out. Each story, by itself, feels finished, but the book as a whole does not. At the end, I felt I had read a series of perfectly realized scenes excerpted from a larger novel.I still highly recommend it.

  • Anna
    2019-03-03 09:12

    When I learned that The Best Place to Be by Lesley Dormen was a novel in stories, I was intrigued. I read a book last year that claimed to be a novel in stories, but I was disappointed. In my mind, the stories should stand up by themselves (they are stories, after all), but together, they should enhance one another and pull it all together. Dormen accomplished this and more.Telling the stories in the first person (and out of order, beginning with Grace at age 50) showcases Grace’s quirkiness and humor (including her obsession with documentaries about the Kennedy assassination, her inability to fire the housekeeper who doesn’t do anything right, and her need to purchase thousands of dollars worth of clothes and then rush off to her therapist to discuss her shopping).While I couldn’t relate to being 50 or having affairs with married men, I could understand Grace’s feelings of not being where you thought you’d be…and then realizing you’re content where you are. Full review on Diary of an Eccentric

  • Lindsay
    2019-02-19 14:07

    So, I didn't really like or hate this book. The reason I bought it is because I liked the title and because it follows the main character throughout different parts of her life, which is the type of book I love to read, because you really the get feel of a person when you can see how they have changed throughout the years. But I think that my problem with this book was that I was never really sure what age she was during the chapters. Clearly the one where she's in college made sense, but it felt like for the most part, the story just focuses on her adulthood, when she's married, not so much as to her younger years. And there wasn't an ended. A chapter ended, but whether it was during the same age as she was when she started telling the story, or before or after, I have no idea. It confused me. So maybe I didn't like it. I'm not sure.

  • Sue
    2019-02-26 13:53

    I'm not sure where all the negativity is coming from with this. It wasn't the best thing l've read recently, but it was by no means a bad book. And l think it was what was advertised: a novel of short stories. Here are snippets out of the life of an average American woman and l found them to be very relatable and well written. No, there are no deep insights into our human condition or the state of our culture or anything like that, but it was good and it was short.

  • Monica
    2019-03-03 08:47

    An interesting collection of stories about different ages throughout her life. Dormen has a very interesting way of interweaving narratives in a stream-of-consciousness prose style. While the prose is very carefully constructed, at times I was lost within the rambling voice and at other times this style kept me at arm's length from connecting emotionally with the material. Overall, worth a read but for me not all that captivating.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-19 11:05

    This is a life told in first person through short story chapters. Grace is likable and the stories feel honest and recognizable. Some great lines are sprinkled throughout the book. "The problem with spending most of your time in books is you can produce words for any occasion - You just don't know what you are talking about."

  • Kristie
    2019-03-07 14:04

    I started the beginning of this book liking it very much. I like the quirkiness and disconnecting story. Then I just got annoyed toward the middle. At the end I realized I found some of this book endearing and the rest just plain old irritating. It was a super quick read, 3 days although I could have finished it in an hour or two if I had been intrigued enough to.

  • Terri
    2019-02-18 11:03

    I met this author at a recent writers conference, so I purchased her book. I really enjoyed it a lot. The character of Grace is finely drawn and as a female baby boomer, I could really resonate with the stories and I loved the nostalgia the author's writing brought back to me.

  • Marjanne
    2019-03-14 15:14

    I really enjoyed the format of this book. It was like reading several short stories, though the main character was the same, just at a different point in life. I felt like the character was developed, though maintained a bit of mystery. It is a good short read.

  • Julie
    2019-03-03 16:49

    I like this for all the symbolism, but hated it for the same thing. Maybe I'm just not smart enough to get it, or maybe there's not much to get. Still, it was somewhat enjoyable and just a little tedious.

  • Margaret
    2019-02-24 08:55

    speaks to middle-aged women still having a life, new york scenes, an easy read