Susan Coll

Book Review
The New York Times
For the Young Couple in This Novel, the Stars Align, Then Explode

Whether Orion ought to be feet- or head-up in the night sky depends on the hemisphere. When Stan, a 23-year-old student from South Australia, rides his bike through the Rocky Mountains, he marvels that the constellation is upside down. So does Jean, arriving in the Antipodes 16 months later from the States to cycle around Tasmania. In such celestial allusions lies the DNA of Heather Taylor-Johnson’s quirky debut, “Jean Harley Was Here,” a novel about stars and oceans and destiny, but also about bicycles and point of view.

This is a love story about loss, a sweet romantic comedy that is not meant to be funny but still skews to conventions about overcoming obstacles and finding true love. Jean and Stan first meet after he sideswipes a deer and falls off his bike. He’s banged up, hungry and in need of a few pints, which leads him to the Corner House Grill in Telluride, where Jean works. After dinner, silhouetted against the moon, Stan wants to kiss her, but their timing isn’t right. They will meet again, despite the nearly 10,000 miles between their hometowns. The union has been preordained by the universe, or at least by the omniscient voice that periodically pops up to tell us what’s what: “Stan and Jean were destined to be lovers. It was painted on the walls of prehistoric mountains and sung by the fish in the southern seas; Stan and Jean were written in the stars.”

Read the full article at The New York Times
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We asked Washington writers to share stories, essays, poems, drafts, musings, and other things they’ve been working on during quarantine. Today, a riff by Susan Coll, who is the author of five novels, most recently The Stager.
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