The Real Mother
Author: Judith Michael
Judith Michael is beloved around the world for powerful stories of love and family. Now this renowned
author returns with a richly emotional tale of the many kinds of love and the collision of good and evil that
threatens to tear a family apart.Sara Elliott has been forced to give up the life she's dreamed of to return
home to Chicago and take charge of her sisters and brother. She finds a job and settles into the house
she grew up in, building a life for ten-year-old Doug and teenagers Carrie and Abby.But Sara has another
brother, Mack, now twenty, who left home three years earlier. Suddenly he reappears, cheerful and
unconcerned, as if he had never broken his promise to stay and help Sara with the children and the
house. With bewildering volatility, Mack swings from kindness to cruelty, affection to hostility, keeping
the family always on edge, his past and present a mystery. But with expensive gifts, storytelling, and the
excitement of his presence, he is winning over the children, and sometimes the four of them stand
together against Sara.Mack challenges all Sara has achieved in trying to be a mother and keep her family
together. And he does it at a time when she is confronted by crises at work that spill over into her home.
Suddenly, events seem to be speeding past and Sara feels she cannot slow them down to regain
control.And then, when she thinks her life has room only for work and family, she meets Reuben Lister, a
client from New York. As Sara helps him find and furnish a house and explore the city, they discover a
closeness neither has known before and share new ways of dealing with conflicts each has always faced
alone. Together, Sara and Reuben find answers to the questions: What is a mother? What is a parent?
What is a family?This is Judith Michael's most poignant exploration of the pressures and joys facing
modern adults and children, in a story that will resonate with everyone for its universal themes and
Sara arrived at the airline terminal as the Corcorans walked out, trailed by a young man pushing a cart
piled with luggage. She wedged her car between taxis and stepped out to open the trunk and the two
passenger doors before extending her hand to Lew Corcoran. "Sara Elliott," she said. "Welcome to
Chicago.""Right." His handshake was perfunctory. Squinting in the bright sun, he pulled a five-dollar bill
from his wallet, considered it, replaced it with two singles, and shoved them into the young man's hand.
He slid into the front seat, turning to Sara."I don't have a lot of time, I'm a busy man.""We'll move quickly,
then," Sara said with a smile, and when Pussy Corcoran, fur-clad and rosy-cheeked, had anchored
herself in the center of the backseat, she drove toward the city."Never used one of you people before,"
Corcoran said, staring moodily through the window. "Taking a chance. Could be a waste of time.""We'll
try to make sure it isn't," Sara said pleasantly.Everyone asked her how she managed to deal with her
clients, spending her days with strangers who did nothing but make demands on her. "It's like a grab bag,
your job," they said. "You never know who'll pop out when you answer your phone. It could be anybody.
Anybody. The oddest people."Her office telephone number was posted at airports, train stations, and rest
stops on highways leading into the city. "Welcome to Chicago," the signs said above the mayor's
signature. "For an official Welcome, and assistance with your visit or becoming a Chicago resident, our
City Greeter is ready to serve you." Beneath, in bold type, were Sara's name and City Hall telephone
number and e-mail.Officially, her title was City Greeter; unofficially, she was General Factotum, Global
Secretary, Walking Encyclopedia, Personal Telephone Directory, Everybody's Schlepper. Officially and
unofficially, she was always supposed to be smiling."We'll be looking at three apartments," she said
when they were on the highway. "And I have the names -- ""You a broker?" Corcoran asked. "Otherwise,
why bother, if we have to find a real estate broker when we're done with you?""I'm a real estate broker,"
Sara said, smiling. "I've lined up three apartments for you to look at. And, as Mrs. Corcoran requested, I
have the names of four personal shoppers for her to interview.""You're the one supposed to do the
interviews," Corcoran said. "Weed them out."Sara smiled. "You telephoned yesterday; that gave me very
little time."He rubbed the large ring on the fourth finger of his right hand as if ordering a genie to spring
forth. The ring looked vaguely military, Sara thought. He filled his seat, a large man, ruddy-skinned, jowly,
with a spreading nose and strangely small eyes, his sleek suit tailored to minimize his bulk. In back,
Pussy Corcoran was small and round, perspiring gently inside her furs, her sprayed hair shining
metallically in the April sunlight."All the apartments are available immediately," Sara said, "so if you
decide on one, you would be in a hotel only until your furniture arrives.""Don't bother with anything that
doesn't have a view," Corcoran said. "I require a view.""And a garage?" said Pussy. "So I don't go out in
the rain?""Attended," said Corcoran. "Twenty-four hours. Same for the door-man. Twenty-four hours.
Numero uno on my list, top-notch service twenty-four/seven.""Maid service?"Pussy said. "And big
bathrooms? Room to move around in, and one for each of us ... that keeps a marriage together? Stays
together?"H er chirping laughter trickled down the back of Sara's...
JUDITH MICHAEL is the pseudonym of husband-and-wife writing team Judith Barnard and Michael Fain.
They live in Chicago, Illinois, and Aspen, Colorado.Don’t miss the next book by your favorite author. Sign
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