Ella Kennedy may not be perfect, but she's smart, she's dedicated, and she's finally managed to find a fascinating thesis subject in the morass of Marxist political theory: Eleanor Marx, the youngest daughter of Karl and a bright light in the Marxist movement, who famously declined after a disastrous love affair. With tenacity, with vigor, Ella Kennedy, Ph.D. student extraordinaire, begins delving into the world of Eleanor just as she takes a job setting up a Marxist mail-order catalogue at the fledgling Institute of Thought in Washington, D.C. -- a veritable three-ring circus.
When Ella's own life begins to parallel Eleanor's -- right down to the domineering father (Ella's is known as the king of discount merchandising) and the distant yet brilliant lover -- the theoretical, the political, and the personal collide in a hilarious romp of a novel. Wacky, heartwarming, and deliciously smart, this novel of heartbreak and hilarity on the doctoral circuit is the intersection of Laura Zigman, Nora Ephron, and Richard Russo.
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.