Beth Thomas has the perfect life. At thirty-five, she’s married to her college sweetheart, has two adorable kids, and teaches part time at the local university. But when a friend persuades Beth to go dancing on a rare night out, a chance meeting with twenty-one-year-old Dave, one of her former students, changes the course of her life. Loud music, too much to drink, and the thrill of feeling young again lead to an unforgettable kiss that was never supposed to happen. As she tries to put the memory behind her, Dave’s pursuit leaves Beth torn between what her mind says is right and what her heart and body crave.
Patricia Mann’s “Is This All There Is?” introduces readers to the seemingly perfect world of Beth Thomas, a 35-year-old mother and wife who takes a risqué detour from diapers and duty to chart a course into erotica, deception and deceit. As the part-time college professor yields to the overpowering push and pull that follow a magnetic encounter with a former student, Beth is held captive in the seductive space that lingers between desire and reason. Honest and moving, Mann’s work is a touching snapshot of middle-America today, a compelling story about one woman’s struggle to keep up appearances while coming undone.
Michelle Hofmann, freelance writer, Los Angeles Times
Patricia Mann’s first novel is an emotional tour de force. Meet Beth, Mann’s believable protagonist in “Is This All There Is?”. On the surface Beth is an average thirty-something suburban mom, overwhelmed with the task of “having it all” and guilty that everything simply isn’t enough. She truly does have it all -- at least superficially. Great husband, two beautiful boys, a part-time gig as a university professor -- literally, the white picket fence scenario. What right does she have to feel that something is missing?
Thanks to Mann’s expert storytelling, the reader is immersed from page one in a realistic storm of Beth’s feelings as she maneuvers her way through the ennui of marital doldrums, motherhood, and guilt. When a risky solution to her boredom reveals itself through Dave, a former student, it threatens her marriage and her family. Erotically charged and emotionally real, “Is This All There Is” is not your simple chick lit love story. Instead it is a manifesto for the age, accurately capturing the complexity of the Gen Xers’ attempts at monogamy vs. the echoes of their parents’ bygone history as the free-love generation.
“Is This All There Is?” will surely resonate with women (and maybe some men) who have found themselves in Beth’s circumstances, which according to research estimates is over half the population of modern young marrieds. Beth’s candor and honesty can be appreciated by everyone, even as she embarks on a course of deceit and betrayal. Indeed, her story-telling is compellingly truthful even while she lies to everyone she knows to cover up one bad decision after another.
Corie Skolnick, California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
and author of ORFAN, a novel
Patricia Mann has a way of drawing you into yourself and forcing you to reflect in the mirror of life. The delightful twists and turns of “Is this all there is?” keep the reader engaged and wanting more.
Mimi Sward, Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Specialist
In her book, "Is This All There Is?" author Patricia Mann shows readers the raw, overwhelming descent of Beth, a young wife and mother, into lies and betrayal. Mann's writing is an honest look at the reasons for and consequences of infidelity, as well as the triumph of real, deep love and redemption.
Colleen Valles, Writer and Policy Analyst