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Young mother Daphne flees her sedate life in San Francisco for the high desert, her toddler Honey in tow. Her Turkish husband has been unable to return to the United States – a ‘click-of-the-mouse error’ – and Daphne is on the verge of a breakdown. She hopes a stay in her family’s unused mobile home will bring quiet, and clarity. But clarity proves elusive, as Daphne’s dream of escape collides with the reality of a deeply divided world.
Keenly observed, bristling with humour, The Golden State is a gorgeous debut about class, a fractured America and, above all, motherhood: its voracious worry, frequent tedium and enthralling, wondrous love.
‘[Kiesling’s] work is always artful, accessible and never trivial. The Golden State shines with all her expected qualities and, in the scope of a novel, brimming with layered writing, she has allowed herself to be expansive as well as intense…What Kiesling describes better than anyone I can think of is the selfless depth of motherhood.’
‘Vivid and immersive…Daphne’s endless days with Honey capture the intensity in the tedium of parenting, and it is this that keeps The Golden State compelling.’
‘In heartrending prose, Lydia Kiesling weaves through an exploration of the political and the private, fear and love, survival and obligation, loneliness and longing.’
‘Intimate, culturally perceptive…Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty.’
‘The Golden State anchors Daphne’s journey in the visceral and material realities of motherhood…the result is less an untroubled analogy between the landscapes of motherhood and the American West than an invitation to think more deeply about how limited our canonical literary imaginings of each have been.’
‘The depictions are remarkably faithful, like a trompe l’oeil painting of a single parent’s mental state.’
‘Kiesling is a talented author…with a unique voice. She’s very smart, very funny, and wonderfully empathetic…[A] skilled and promising writer.’
‘An astute cultural commentator, shedding light on our current political divide, Kiesling writes with breathtaking precision and honesty about motherhood.’
‘A lucid, lyrical look at the often alienating, disorienting experience of early motherhood…More than that, though, Kiesling beautifully explores not just the changed identity that comes with motherhood, but that which comes with partnership, aging, and the sudden realization that the parts of your identity you once thought were most immutable, are actually as ephemeral as that precious, fleeting golden hour of the day.’
‘This tender, lush book—centred on a new single mom who ditches city life for the Northern California desert—profoundly depicts young motherhood and its challenges as I haven’t quite read before.’
‘The Golden State is packed with insight and questions. It ruminates on age, on class and culture, on the concept of 'home’, on the place of language in our identities, the way that isolation can create ignorance, and most importantly, on the value of human relationships in all the forms they take.‘
‘This is an endlessly readable story of a typically fallible and first-time mother who does not take herself too seriously. It is just hugely enjoyable and familiar all round.’