Enter to win Grace Period!

Gender: Your Guide, 2nd Edition

Enter to win Grace Period! To enter the contest, fill out the form below between Friday, June 7, and Friday, June 28.

"What happens when your younger partner dies on her way to your retirement party? "Retirement, or grief?" the hapless, endearing protagonist of Grace Period must keep asking herself as she attempts to navigate her strange new life. That might not sound like the setup for an extremely funny novel, but trust me, in Elisabeth Nonas' skilled hands, it is. A retired professor of screenwriting (like Nonas herself), Hannah jokes about whether the five stages of grief are the emotional equivalent of narrative structure, and tries to map her own progress according to the Hero's Journey arc. But she can't even manage to "Return with the Elixir." As she mourns, though, a retrospective portrait of her rich relationship with Grace takes shape, and so does a vibrant picture of her community of friends and exes. I didn't want this book to end, but of course, according to the rules of story structure, it had to. I just hope Nonas will write a sequel."

Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home

"If it's possible for a novel about loss to be both meditative and laugh-out-loud funny Grace Period is it. Elisabeth Nonas expertly navigates around the dark space where a beloved used to be, until she lands us in the place where memory makes it possible to go on."

Jewelle Gomez, author of The Gilda Stories

"This brave, utterly beautiful book takes us onto the road all of us at some time must travel. We become Hannah's closest companions on her journey through a deepening minutia of memories of Grace, the love of her life, on a wandering pathway without direction or signposts, yet leading, yes leading onto a first bridge that begins to integrate profound loss with ongoing life."Witty, Humorous Tale of Love and Loss Unfolds in Grace Period

Hannah's wife has died unexpectedly

Just as 70-year-old writing professor Hannah Greene walks into her retirement party, she's called to the ER because Grace, her wife of 25 years, has been in what turns out to be a fatal car accident. This was definitely not part of the plan the two had for their lives, especially since Grace was ten years younger than Hannah. The plan had been for Hannah to join her art history professor wife on a sabbatical trip to Europe. Grace would do research, and Hannah would figure out what she wanted to do in her retirement.

How does an independent, feisty lesbian adjust to both her suddenly widowed and newly retired life? How can she survive the loss of the spouse who statistically should have survived her?

Grace Period tackles these questions head-on in an intimate, witty portrayal of a woman grappling with the new and unexpected turn her life has taken. It is a tale of love, loss, and survival.

About the Author

Grace Period is Elisabeth Nonas' fourth published novel. She has also written several screenplays, short stories, magazine articles, and essays. She coauthored with Simon LeVay the nonfiction City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America.

Her earlier novels focused on how lesbians form community and create family. Given that her first book appeared in 1985 when she was in her mid-30s, she clearly has different concerns as she ages and her life continues to unfold. These were what sparked Grace Period.

Born and raised in New York City, and despite believing she'd never leave, she moved to Los Angeles after N.Y.U. graduate film school and stayed for eighteen yearslong enough to think that sixty degrees felt cold. In July 1995 she followed her heart and moved back east to Ithaca, New York.

In January 1996, when she wasn't chipping ice off her car, she taught two introductory screenwriting classes in the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. That ultimately led to a full-time position. In her twenty-five years there, she taught all levels of screenwriting, developed courses in adaptation, writing for video games and emerging media, and, her favorite, "Story: From Cave Paintings to Emerging Media." She felt incredibly lucky to be teaching writing in a time of expanded narrative delivery.

Elisabeth retired from teaching in December 2019 and continues to live in Ithaca, NY, with her spouse, Nancy K. Bereano, founding publisher and editor of Firebrand Books.

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