I found "The Fiction Class" while looking for book club selections a few months ago. This is the first novel for Susan Breen who is a journalist turned author. This novel follows parts of her life, she teaches writing and the short story woven in the book is Breen’s work, Fortune, published over 10 years ago. I encourage everyone to visit her website, which is filled with facts, stories and a blog.

"The Fiction Class" is the story of Arabella, her fiction class and her mother. Arabella teaches a fiction class and is trying to complete her first novel. As you meet the students in the class, you see that they are really more than students, they come together to form a family over the period of the class.

This is also a mother daughter story. Arabella visits her mother after class weekly, usually with fast food in tow. The relationship is beautifully written and explored in the novel, genuine.

Breen brings the two storylines together masterfully, illuminating each other with quiet wisdom. A genuine, beautifully written novel that resonates long after you have finished it, filled with wisdom about writing and mothers and daughters. I recommend this book for book groups everywhere!
BWAV rating of this book: 3 stars
Type: Fiction, 296 pages, Trade Paperback

A witty, honest, and hugely entertaining story for anyone who loves books, or has a difficult mother. And, let's face it, that's practically everybody . . .
On paper, Arabella Hicks seems more than qualified to teach her fiction class on the Upper West Side: she's a writer herself; she's passionate about books; she's even named after the heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel.
On the other hand, she's thirty-eight, single, and has been writing the same book for the last seven years. And she has been distracted recently: on the same day that Arabella teaches her class she also visits her mother in a nursing home outside the city. And every time they argue. Arabella wants the fighting to stop, but, as her mother puts it, "Just because we're family, doesn't mean we have to like each other." When her class takes a surprising turn and her lessons start to spill over into her weekly visits, she suddenly finds she might be holding the key to her mother's love and, dare she say it, her own inspiration. After all, as a lifelong lover of books, she knows the power of a good story.

“Reminds us of what the right words in the proper order can give: pleasure, laughter, heartache, and… just in the nick of time, redemption.” – Marisa De Los Santos (author of Love Walked In)

“A poignant yet amusing tale of family relationships rendered even more satisfying by Breen’s dispensing of Strunk & White – like advice.” – Booklist