Polly Dugan 2017-09-07T04:49:18+00:00

Project Description

Polly Dugan is the award-winning author of the linked story collection So Much a Part of You, which writer Alan Heathcock said “announces the arrival of a potent and fresh new voice” in fiction. Her debut novel, The Sweetheart Deal, was a Portland Monthly Essential Book pick and one of Library Journal’s “Hot Summer Book Club Reads.” Author Elin Hildebrand raved it was “The most romantic story I’ve read in years,” and Coastal Living called it a “charming, poignant novel of dealing with grief and finding love again.” A former employee of Guide Dogs for the Blind and Powell’s Books, Polly is an alumna of the Tin House Writer’s Workshop and a reader at Tin House magazine. Her short fiction has been featured as a Narrative Story of the Week and awarded an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers contest. She lives in Portland with her husband and two sons, an enormous black Labrador retriever and a yard sale cat.


A young widow and her husband’s bachelor best friend fall in love, but even if it’s what the husband wanted, is it real?

Firefighter Leo McGeary has always joked that, in the event of his death, he wants Garrett, his lifelong best friend and a consummate bachelor, to marry his wife, Audrey. One drunken New Year’s Eve, he goes so far as to make Garrett sign a piece of paper promising to do so. Twelve years later, Garrett receives a phone call from Audrey in the middle of the night: Leo has died in a freak skiing accident. Within hours, Garrett quits his tenure-track job at Boston College, ends his latest casual relationship, and purchases a one-way ticket to Oregon to be with Leo’s family.

As Audrey learns to navigate life as a widow and as a single parent to her and Leo’s three sons, her feelings for Garrett become more than platonic. Garrett finds himself falling for Audrey and her boys, too, as they form a new kind of family together in Portland. But when Audrey learns of the drunken pact Garrett and Leo made all those years ago, the promise that brought Garrett out west and into her world becomes the obstacle to his remaining in it.

Gorgeously crafted and pitch-perfect in its details, The Sweetheart Deal is the heartrending story of how people move on in the wake of devastating loss—and of what happens when the chance for love unexpectedly appears again.


Two young women who’ve dated the same man navigate love, destiny, loss and choice in this powerful debut.

Anna Riley and Anne Cavanaugh have had a lover in common, but it’s not until a pivotal moment in one of their lives that their paths unforgettably converge. “Beautiful and connected in unexpected ways” (Jodi Angel), the linked stories in So Much a Part of You “read like whispered secrets” (Scott Nadelson).

Peter Herring was the center of Anne’s universe in college, and now, a few years later, he’s become the center of Anna’s, and merely a minor player in his ex-girlfriend’s world. That is, until Peter and Anna are invited into Anne’s parents’ home to visit with her dying mother, and Peter finds himself drawn back into Anne’s orbit. Years later, when her own mother is dying, Anna will yearn to reach out to Anne, with whom she had shared such a brief but intimate bond, and take solace in that long-ago moment.

Perspective evolves with time, and so with time what Peter means to each woman—as lover, as friend, as connection to the past—also evolves. Through exploring Anne’s and Anna’s ties to Peter and unspooling the narratives of the people who weave meaningfully in and out of their lives, Polly Dugan reveals the power of family secrets, the ripple effects of her characters’ emotional choices, and how poignantly their intertwined relationships shape who they are and how they love.

Possessing that rare ability to write the sweep of emotion with tenderness, Dugan invites readers to witness the moments that define her characters—the moments that come back full circle to comfort or haunt them, or both. So Much a Part of You will break your heart and still have you asking for more.


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