Katherine Sherbrooke, The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly, with Rachel Barenbaum

PSB: Boston Edition and GrubStreet are delighted to present the launch of The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly, the new novel from Katherine SherbrookeRachel Barenbaum will join the author in conversation, and Katherine will be joined onstage for a special performance by Madigan Linnane, a Berklee College of Music student who has composed original music and lyrics to bring to life two fictional songs that appear in the novel. This event will take place on Tuesday, April 4 at 7 pm at Porter Square Books: Boston Edition (50 Liberty Dr. Boston, Ma 02210).

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When a runway model in 1940s Hollywood makes a split-second decision intended to protect those she loves, she triggers a cascade of secrets that threatens to upend her daughter’s life decades later.

After winning a prestigious fashion design contest in 1948, Aster Kelly flees the world of modeling in New York and arrives in Beverly Hills to claim her prize: a design apprenticeship with Fernando Tivoli. But Fernando has no such job available. He’s busily preparing for the opportunity of a lifetime—proving to Galaxy Studios that he is the perfect couturier for their A-list stars. The moment he meets Aster, though, he knows she’s the missing ingredient he needs and asks her to be his stand-in model for Lauren Bacall. Aster is dismayed to once again have her creative potential sidelined, but when Fernando promises to mentor her if he wins the contract, she agrees.

Aster and Fernando quickly become romantically entangled with Hollywood insiders—Aster with the head of Galaxy Studios, Fernando with their biggest up-and-coming star, Christopher Page—and Aster and Fernando’s friendship becomes essential as they navigate a glamorous and complicated existence where what’s real must often be hidden, and no one is quite who they seem. As Aster’s ambitions grow and she faces a crisis, and Fernando’s future is threatened by the judgmental Hollywood machine, Aster makes a decision that changes the trajectory of their lives forever.

Twenty-five years later, despite knowing little of her mother’s time in Hollywood and being raised well outside the reaches of fame, Aster’s daughter Lissy is poised to become a Broadway star. But when the musical gets off to a rocky start, Lissy makes a rash decision of her own in an attempt to save the show. And when long-buried secrets blindside them both, mother and daughter are forced to question everything they thought they knew.

The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly is a story about the bonds of chosen family, the cost of fame and the enduring strength of love that will keep you guessing until the last page.



Katherine A. Sherbrooke is the author of a family memoir called Finding Home and three novels: the New York Times notable Leaving Coy’s Hill, which was selected for 2022 MA Book Award’s Honors in Fiction prize, Fill the Sky, the winner of a 2017 Independent Press Award and finalist for the Mary Sarton Award for Contemporary Fiction, and her newest novel, The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly, which was inspired by everything she doesn’t know about her mother’s time as a runway model in 1940s Hollywood. She served for the past ten years as Chair of the Board of GrubStreet, and shares her newly empty nest south of the city with her husband and black lab.


ATOMIC ANNA is Rachel Barenbaum's second novel. The New York Times Book Review said it was “masterfully plotted." And the LA Review of Books called it "propulsive and intimate." It was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award, named an Honor Book by the Association of Jewish Libraries for their 2022 Fiction Award, and received a starred review from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Rachel's debut, A BEND IN THE STARS, was named a New York Times Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. 

Rachel is a prolific writer and reviewer. Her work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, the LA Review of Books, Lit Hub, and more. She is a Scholar in Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis. Her podcast, Check This Out, spotlights new and diverse authors and is sponsored by the Howe Library and A Mighty Blaze. She has degrees from Harvard in Business, and Literature and Philosophy. She is an elected Town Meeting Member in Brookline, MA. 


Madigan Linnane is an emerging musician with roots in Grafton, Massachusetts and now resides in The Mad River Valley in Vermont. Her thoughtful lyrics, drawn from emotional life experiences, combine with a modern folk/pop/indie musical style producing songs that appeal to broad audiences.  Madigan began writing music when she was 10 years old and released her first EP entitled Beautiful Me in 2019, containing 6 original songs chronicling the touching moments she experienced in her formative years. Madigan is currently attending Berklee College of Music to pursue her passion for music. 

Event date: 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023 - 7:00pm

Event address: 

Porter Square Books: Boston Edition
50 Liberty Drive
Boston, MA 02210

RSVP Form: 

The Hidden Life of Aster Kelly: A Novel By Katherine A. Sherbrooke Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639363537
Availability: In Stock: Click Title to See if it's in CAMBRIDGE or BOSTON
Published: Pegasus Books - April 4th, 2023

Atomic Anna By Rachel Barenbaum Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538734872
Availability: In Stock: Click Title to See if it's in CAMBRIDGE or BOSTON
Published: Grand Central Publishing - March 7th, 2023


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