I love Abigail Thomas. Anything she writes. I have to say this terrific story totally surprised me. She is such an observer, you don't realize right away that what she is showing you is going to go to the gut. Nothing is announced; this relationship is revealed with a steady thump of dialogue, the deft steps of event, as this woman makes her way to power. I've been recently thinking a lot about the way a story can be made of little steps, some overt, some oblique, but each one building to an arrival. This story is an accrual of observation + narrative. She avoids the kind of interiority that spells it all out for the reader. Ceil is here at the beginning, and there at the end. Good for her.