Title: Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win
Author: Jo Piazza
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
In Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win, the hotly anticipated new novel from bestselling author Jo Piazza, Charlotte Walsh is dedicated, ambitious, and, you guessed it – likes to succeed in her endeavours.
She’s been applying her skills as a high-powered executive in Silicon Valley (Charlotte is positioned as a Sheryl Sandberg type), and happily raising her three young daughters alongside her equally hardworking husband. But when the opportunity to run for political office comes her way, her contentedness gives way to new ambition.
Charlotte runs for Senate, but not in California: the opportunity is in Pennsylvania, and requires relocating the family to her tired hometown, which until recently, she was all-too-happy to leave behind. That’s where her troubled brother (and her ray-of-sunshine sister-in-law) live, and serve as a microcosm for the kind of class politics and economic issues that Pennsylvania faces – and that Charlotte has vowed to fix.
Charlotte’s opponent, aging Republican incumbent Ted Slaughter, is as archetypal a villain as his surname suggests: he’s old-school sexist, shamelessly bigoted, and more than ready to run a vicious counter-campaign. Joining in the cast of characters are her wunderkind campaign manager, her endearing long-time assistant, her savvy social media manager, and her supportive family… Sort of.
Charlotte’s marriage makes for much of the emotional drama. With their relocation, her husband Max has moved into the stay at home dad role, but hasn’t taken to it. Gender politics, in which the personal is very much political, play out here in interesting ways. I found myself liking and disliking these complicated characters in equal measure as the story built to its fraught climax.
Narrator Tavia Gilbert does an expert job with the novel’s many personalities. She effectively conveys the pressure Charlotte is under, the exhaustion she feels, and the ominous sense of how high-stakes the election is – for the country, for the state, and for the personal lives of the people most involved.
Part homecoming narrative, part behind-the-scenes thrill-ride, part domestic drama and part political farce, Charlotte Walsh Likes To Win is a uniquely compelling story that could not be more timely. I highly recommend.
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