Ellen Sussman is the New York Times bestselling author of four novels, A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is the editor of two critically acclaimed anthologies, Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave and Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex. She teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her website here.
A WEDDING IN PROVENCE (2014)
When Olivia and Brody drive up to their friend’s idyllic inn—nestled in a valley in the Mediterranean town of Cassis—they know they’ve chosen the perfect spot for their wedding. The ceremony will be held in the lush garden, and the reception will be a small party of only their closest family and friends. But when Olivia and Brody’s guests check in, their peaceful wedding weekend is quickly thrown off balance.
The first to arrive is Nell, Olivia’s oldest daughter from her first marriage. Impulsive and reckless, she invites a complete stranger—an enigmatic man who is both alluring and a bit dangerous—to be her guest at the wedding. The next is Carly, Olivia’s youngest daughter, the responsible and pragmatic one. Away from her demanding job and a strained relationship, she feels an urgent need to cut loose—and for once do something brash and unpredictable. Then there is Jake, Brody’s playboy best man, and Fanny, Brody’s mother, who is coping with the fallout of her own marriage. And in the middle of it all is Olivia, navigating the dramas, joys, and pitfalls of planning a wedding and starting a new life.
A delicious, compelling, and utterly enchanting novel, A Wedding in Provence captures the complex and enduring bonds of family, and our boundless faith in love.
“Utterly charming and wildly romantic.”—Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train
“With well-drawn characters, beautiful scenery, and challenging emotional terrain, Sussman’s latest is a satisfying exploration of family and the enduring power of love.”—Booklist
“As delicious, sensuous and addictive as the meals, landscapes, sexual romps and wild rides of all sorts that Sussman so vividly describes.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“You may not be getting away this summer, but [this novel] can take you places.”—Time
“[A] comédie with plenty of insight about love, loss and intimacy.”—Good Housekeeping
“Full of surprises . . . Sussman brings the [French] countryside to life.”—Bookreporter
One of “10 Hot Summer Reads to Pack for the Beach”—USA Today
THE PARADISE GUEST HOUSE: A Novel (2013)
It starts as a trip to paradise. Sent on assignment to Bali, Jamie, an American adventure guide, imagines spending weeks exploring the island’s lush jungles and pristine white sand beaches. Yet three days after her arrival, she is caught in Bali’s infamous nightclub bombings, which irreparably change her life and leave her with many unanswered questions.
One year later, haunted by memories, Jamie returns to Bali seeking a sense of closure. Most of all, she hopes to find Gabe, the man who saved her from the attacks. She hasn’t been able to forget his kindness—or the spark between them as he helped her heal. Checking into a cozy guest house for her stay, Jamie meets the kindly owner, who is coping with a painful past of his own, and a young boy who improbably becomes crucial to her search. Jamie has never shied away from a challenge, but a second chance with Gabe presents her with the biggest dilemma of all: whether she’s ready to open her heart.
“Two survivors of Bali’s terrorist bombing find love and spiritual rebirth on an island whose inhabitants believe in reincarnation in Sussman’s touching panorama of paradise. . . . Throughout, Sussman celebrates lovers, quiet healing, and the sweetness of the island and its people.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A story of healing and redemption, of finding love in the most unexpected places, and of the importance of moving forward . . . Sussman has drawn a vivid, well-balanced portrait of a woman and a country working to recover from an unimaginable event and a very personal look at a global tragedy.”—Booklist
“Echoing Bali’s difficult recovery from [the 2002 terrorist bombing], the characters tread the difficult terrain of post-traumatic attachment. . . . A respectful and earnest . . . treatment of devastation’s aftermath.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] moving story about making sense of life after a tragedy . . . This touching tale will cause contemplation about what closure truly means.”—RT Book Reviews
Rights: Ballantine, World English; Casa da Palavra, Brazil; Blanvalet, Germany
FRENCH LESSONS (2011)
A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans as they each set off to explore the city with a French tutor, learning about language, love, and loss as their lives intersect in surprising ways.
Josie, Riley, and Jeremy have come to the City of Light for different reasons: Josie, a young high school teacher, arrives in hopes of healing a broken heart. Riley, a spirited but lonely expat housewife, struggles to feel connected to her husband and her new country. And Jeremy, the reserved husband of a renowned actress, is accompanying his wife on a film shoot, yet he feels distant from her world.
As they meet with their tutors—Josie with Nico, a sensitive poet; Riley with Phillippe, a shameless flirt; and Jeremy with the consummately beautiful Chantal—each succumbs to unexpected passion and unpredictable adventures. Yet as they traverse Paris’s grand boulevards and intimate, winding streets, they uncover surprising secrets about one another—and come to understand long-buried truths about themselves.
"[A] luscious novel of love and longing . . . the narrative feelslight as a glass of rose at an outdoor cafe, but its insightscarry the richness of a Burgundy."—People, four stars
"[A] sexy travelogue . . . sizzling escapist reading."—Entertainment Weekly
"As inviting as the smell of freshly baked croissants wafting from a Parisian cafe, this is a novel to savor."—Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
"Touching, thoughtful, hilarious, and exquisite in its observations, French Lessons—Ellen Sussman's day in Paris with a wonderful collection of characters—is a treat. . . . Tres charmant!"—Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Four Ms. Bradwells
"Charming, romantic, and brimming with Sussman's trademark joie de vivre, "French Lessons" is a novel to savor."—Amanda Eyre Ward, author of Close Your Eyes
Rights: Ballantine, World English; Constable & Robinson, UK; Blanvalet, Germany; Thinkingdom, Taiwan; Clube do Autor, Portugal; Wydawnictwo Literackie, Poland; Casa da Palavra, Brazil (World Portuguese)
DIRTY WORDS: The Unabridged Encyclopedia of Sex (2008)
This witty reference steps in where time-honored discussions of the birds-and-the-bees typically fall short. Each of the 90-some entries are formally defined and further explained through reflective and ribald definitions, essays, and stories by some of today's most exciting writers. Everything from celibacy to swinging, hand jobs to spooning are tackled by everyone's favorite writers including Daphne Merkin, Charles Kaiser, Erica Jong, Thomas Beller, and Jane Smiley. Learn what Philip Lopate has to say about duration and Pagan Kennedy about the phallus. Ravi Shankar lingers on the quickie while Patty Marx waxes poetic about the vibrator. From sexual relationships (monogamy, one-night stand, ménage a trios) to sexual positions (doggie style, 69), from age-old practices (prostitution) to contemporary twists (internet sex), this alphabetical encyclopedia includes everything you need to know about the language of love and more. A perfect gift designed to supplement any good sex education, Dirty Words will find a warm spot on bookshelves and bed-side tables everywhere.
“Reading Dirty Words cover to cover isn't so much an exploration of sexual tastes and boundaries as it is a celebration of our splendid imagination and capacity for tolerance. Refer to it for the things you don't know (cicibeo) and for the things you think you know (tantric), then keep it on the top shelf. One day it'll come in handy for a talk on the birds, the bees ... and bestiality.”—npr.org
“This catalog of the carnal is such wicked fun to read: Like its subject material, it's sexy, silly, and full of savory surprises.”—Elle
“Ellen Sussman has compiled the outrageous book we all wish we could’ve snuck into our school bookbags.”—Penthouse
“An often riveting, and occasionally shocking, essay collection that does much more than define 94 sex-related terms... surprisingly straightforward and entirely unconcerned with shock value.”—Publishers Weekly
Rights: Bloomsbury, North America
BAD GIRLS: 26 Writers Misbehave (2007)
“I behave badly to set myself apart. To test myself. To push myself. To prove something. To shock someone. ... I behave badly because I can.” That’s how Ellen Sussman describes her mischievous endeavors. In this anthology of personal essays, she’s invited twenty-five other bad girl writers to share their stories. Ann Hood lies; Mary Roach confesses. Erica Jong, the original bad girl, challenges her own claim to that fame. Caroline Leavitt marries and cheats. These pages bristle with danger. The writers dig deep―bad behavior lies in their souls. And what they bring to the surface reveals telling truths about our psyches and our society.
“Makes for seriously sexy (and smart) summer reading.”―Elle
"…refreshingly, Sussman makes no pat pronouncements about "what it means" when women, bred for compliance, misbehave. "Is bad behavior a fall from grace or a triumph?" she asks. "The answer is yes." Then come the tales of glorious, even dangerous, badness, of rebellions both classic and creative."—NY Times
"26 funny, feisty women writers tell all. Ellen Sussman's anthology "Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave" reminds us that bad girlery is so much more than sloppy behavior and wardrobe malfunctions — it's a calling. It's the call to self, mixed in with the call of the wild. Anybody can get a DUI, but a real "bad girl" is a creature of passion and conviction, simmering rage and acute horniness, frailty and fearlessness. Rare is the anthology without a clunker, but there is none here."—L.A. Times
"These stories prove intriguing and brave. A lively assortment with enough variety to hook a wide range of readers."—Publishers Weekly
"First-rate execution by top-notch talent."—Kirkus Review
Rights: Norton, World English