Jane Kramer never imagined a life selling discount furniture and commuting between grocery stores and soccer fields via minivan. But when her father-in-law has a heart attack, she and her husband, Leon, trade in their glamorous New York life for a stint running the family business on Rockville Pike, a tributary of the suburban sprawl line extending outward from Washington, D.C. Kramer's Discount Furniture Depot sits away from several lanes of traffic, near the tombstone of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is here that Jane escapes each day at lunchtime to ponder her confusing turn in life. At age forty-one, she has a teenage Goth son, her husband is increasingly overweight and quick-tempered, and their business is in a state of crisis, both financially and legally. Jane finds herself wishing for something more. First, add to the mix Delia, a mysterious and strangely predatory patio-furniture saleswoman who seems to have her sights set on Leon, and then an attack on the store expansion plans by historic preservationists. When potentially disturbing findings about Delia's past come to light, Jane finds herself learning that, despite life's reversals, it is possible to reinvent herself by tapping into talents and desires she didn't realize she still had. Rockville Pike is a smart, witty, and funny read that revels in the joy of discovering what life has in store.
Susan Coll's articles and reviews have appeared in the International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post Book World, and The Asian Wall Street Journal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, the author and journalist Steve Coll, and their three children.