The much anticipated and darkly comic first novel from a prize-winning storyteller


"I grew up on a farm." The year is l974, the place Sweetwater College, and Beatrice Wolfe is telling the story of her life to the glamorous young professor Philippa Sayres. So begins the achingly funny, often heartbreaking story of Beatrice's double quest to find out who she might be, and to escape the gothic eccentricity of her family.


Married in a misbegotten passion, her parents are totally unsuited to any kind of business. The four Wolfe children's lives are ruled by their mother whose larger-than-life demands and fears encircle them in a darkly comic web of contradictions. When their father's ping pong business collapses and he loses their "farm," Bea's family spirals out of control.

Bea, under Philippa's romantic spell, joins a lesbian community and is so committed to her new gay identity that she barely notices she's falling in love with a man—a man just risen from the ashes of addiction, whose re-creation of himself she threatens to undo.


In The Bride of Catastrophe, Heidi Jon Schmidt explores the magnetic effect of love in all its variations—its power to form and sometimes deform us, to make us who we are.