The Underside of Joy: A Novel (Paperback)

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The Underside of Joy: A Novel By Sere Prince Halverson Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Ella finds her piece
of paradise in the Redwood forest when she stops on a drive north in a small
town and meets Joe.  They set off fireworks right from the start. 
Joe’s wife has left him alone with their two adorable toddlers.  Ella fits
right into the family, she has always wanted children and she loves the little
boy and girl fiercely.  Joe calls her Ella Bella and makes her believe in
forever.  His sudden death shatters her joyful home.  She realizes
they never talked about the hard stuff; his failing business, the children’s
biological mother, the sorry state of their finances.  Their little Eden
had secrets, now the subjects they avoided are coming home to roost.


— Deon Stonehouse


“[An] exquisite debut . . . moving and hopeful.” –People Style Watch

To Ella Beene, happiness means living in the Northern California river town of Elbow, California, with her husband Joe and his two young children. But one summer day Joe drowns, leaving Ella alone with Annie and Zach—until his ex-wife, Paige, shows up at the funeral. For three years, Ella believed that Paige had selfishly abandoned her family. Yet—as the custody fight between mother and stepmother ensues—Ella realizes there may be more to the story than Joe ever revealed.

The Underside of Joy is not a fairy-tale version of step-motherhood, pitting good against evil, but a captivating story of two women who both claim to be the mother of the same two children.

About the Author

SERÉ PRINCE HALVERSON lives in northern California and worked as a freelance copywriter for twenty years while she wrote fiction. She and her husband have four grown children. She is a mom and a stepmom, and grew up with a mom and a stepmom. This is her debut novel.

Praise For…

"The writing in The Underside of Joy is as purely beautiful as the story is emotionally complex. When Ella Beene is wrenched from a state of unexamined happiness into confusion and grief, she finds that her only hope of emerging whole is to face searing and long-buried truths. Ella embarks on a difficult journey, both morally and materially, one that requires her to risk losing everything she most loves. I cheered (sometimes through tears) her every step." -Marisa de los Santos

"An exquisite debut...moving and hopeful." -People Style Watch

"Searingly smart and exquisitely written, Halverson's knockout debut limns family, marriage and a custody battle in a way that gets under your skin and leaves you changed. To say I loved this book would be an understatement." -Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You

“A book club favorite.” –Associated Press

“Engrossing and keenly affecting.” –Dallas Morning News
Product Details
ISBN: 9780452298736
ISBN-10: 0452298733
Publisher: Plume
Publication Date: November 27th, 2012
Pages: 320
Language: English