book cover of The Old Place
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The Old Place

(2022)
A novel by

 
 
One of Vanity Fair's Best Books of the Year 

A bighearted and moving debut about a wry retired schoolteacher whose decade-old secret threatens to come to light and send shockwaves through her small Texas town.


Billington, Texas, is a place where nothing changes. Well, almost nothing. For the first time in nearly four decades, Mary Alice Roth is not getting ready for the first day of school at Billington High. A few months into her retirement—or, district mandated exile as she calls it—Mary Alice does not know how to fill her days. The annual picnic is coming up, but that isn’t nearly enough since the menu never changes and she had the roles mentally assigned weeks ago. At least there’s Ellie, who stops by each morning for coffee and whose reemergence in Mary Alice’s life is the one thing soothing the sting of retirement. 

Mary Alice and Ellie were a pair since the day Ellie moved in next door. That they both were single mothers—Mary Alice widowed, Ellie divorced—with sons the same age was a pleasant coincidence, but they were forever linked when they lost the boys, one right after the other. Years later, the two are working their way back to a comfortable friendship. But when Mary Alice’s sister arrives on her doorstep with a staggering piece of news, it jeopardizes the careful shell she’s built around her life. The whole of her friendship with Ellie is put at risk, the fabric of a place as steadfast as Billington is questioned, and the unflappable, knotty fixture that is Mary Alice Roth might have to change after all.


Genre: General Fiction

Praise for this book

"The Old Place is a wry but affectionate portrait of small-town life, its complicated rites and alliances, its various absurdities, and, most importantly, its people. Bobby Finger's debut is funny and genuinely moving--an utter charmer." - Rumaan Alam

"Bobby Finger's The Old Place is a wryly funny, bittersweet, emotionally generous novel. I missed the characters so much when it was over, and wished I could read another book about them all. It's a heck of a debut." - Jami Attenberg

"Bobby Finger's debut novel is so charming, so warm-hearted, and so thoroughly luminous I never wanted it to end--just like I never wanted to leave the small-town Texas he so lovingly renders here. This book made me homesick for a place I've never been." - Katie Heaney

"Bobby Finger has written an enchanting, mesmerizing novel with all the warmth and community of Texas in The Old Place. This novel is a salad-spinner of family drama, long-held secrets, and heartbreak that hollowed me out and filled me back up with hope. I felt at home in these characters as I read: devastated for their losses and hopeful for their unification. It is a wonderful thing to find a novel that allows for both the complexity and the beauty of love--be it familial, romantic, or platonic. Finger writes it all beautifully, boldly, and deftly." - Kelsey McKinney

"With a wise and kind heart, Finger has written a novel as full of memorable characters, secrets, and epic family drama as any small town. Book clubs are going to love this vibrant debut." - J Ryan Stradal

"I loved being inside this skillful novel--at the planning parties for church fundraisers, learning to drive with a can of beer in the cupholder, and in the heads of some wonderfully tangy old Texan ladies. Bobby Finger has built a rich world in The Old Place, and I will think of it every time I make toast." - Emma Straub


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