Maris Matherly-Reed is vice-president of Matherly Press, the
publishing house founded by her grandfather and currently headed by
her father. She is the consummate book editor, with a fantastic
instinct to spot a bestseller sitting in a slush pile. As ENVY
begins, Maris thinks she has discovered one such diamond in the
rough. At least she hopes the book fulfills the promise evident in
the prologue, the only portion the author has submitted. Furthering
the mystery, the author has signed only his or her initials, P. M.
E., and given an incomplete address, St. Anne Island, Georgia.
There is no phone number and no requisite self-addressed, stamped
envelope. Frustrated but intrigued, Maris begins a quest to find
and confront this enigmatic author.
Maris is married to Noah Reed, who authored a highly successful,
critically acclaimed book when he was younger, but found he liked
the business end of publishing better than the writing. Maris, who
claims she was in love with him before she met him just from
reading his book, is disappointed in his lack of creative output.
However, she loves him and is as willing to wait until he is ready
to write again, just as she is willing to overlook many not quite
perfect aspects of her marriage.
Noah sends Maris off to Georgia to find the author, using the
pressures of business as an excuse not to join her. When Maris
arrives at St. Anne Island, she goes on something of a wild goose
chase. Is the is caretaker of the semi-restored plantation P. M.
E.? Is the author actually one of the patrons of the bar next
to the boat dock? Maris does meet and persuade the true author to
continue with the book --- but I won't spoil any of the surprises
that Brown has in store for her characters and her readers. Suffice
to say, Maris returns to New York feeling like she has accomplished
something, but has the enigmatic author planned this conclusion all
Throughout ENVY, Brown interweaves the subplots of Maris's
disillusionment with her marriage, her growing infatuation with
Parker, and her relationship with her father. Ultimately, the
story Brown has written as Parker Evans is far truer to Parker's
reality than the fiction he presents. And it's this parallel plot
development that heightens the suspense and keeps the reader
guessing till all the answers are revealed in the final pages. ENVY
may well be Sandra Brown's best book yet.
Reviewed by Debbie Ann Weiner on January 21, 2011