Florence in Ecstacy (Unnamed Press)

A young woman arrives in Florence from Boston, knowing no one and speaking little Italian. But Hannah is isolated in a more profound way, estranged from her own identity after a bout with starvation that has left her life and body in ruins.

She is determined to recover in Florence, a city saturated with beauty, vitality, and food―as well as a dangerous history of sainthood for women who starved themselves for God. 

Hannah joins a local rowing club and is drawn into Florence’s vibrant present: soccer mania, eating, drinking, sex, an insatiable insistence on life. But Hannah is also rapt by the city’s past―the countless representations of beauty, the entrenched conflicts of politics and faith, and the lore of the mystical saints, women whose ecstatic searches for meaning through denial illuminate the seduction of her own struggles. 

A vivid, visceral debut echoing the novels of Jean Rhys, Elena Ferrante, and Catherine Lacey, Florence in Ecstasy gives us an arresting new vision of a woman’s attempt to find meaning―and find herself―in an unstable world. 

Praise for Florence in Ecstacy

"Chaffee's fierce debut brings Hannah's struggles, discoveries, and sweet triumphs to life." —Claire Messud, New York Times best-selling author of The Emperor's Children 

"Jessie Chaffee's debut novel is an unflinching look at a woman’s attempt to outrun her demons... displaying not only diligent research but also an emotional intuition that brings Hannah to startling life." —Publishers Weekly

"Jessie Chaffee's Hannah is never defined by her illness alone, but by the breadth of her intelligence and the depth of her emotional life. This is a remarkable debut—frank, serious, eloquent."  —Alice McDermott, National Book Award-winning author of Charming Billy and Someone

Jessie Chaffee was awarded a Fulbright Grant to complete Florence in Ecstasy and was the writer-in-residence at Florence University of the Arts. Her work has been published in The RumpusSliceBluestemGlobal City Review, and The Sigh Press, among other places. She received her MFA from the City College of New York, and she lives in New York City, where she is an editor at Words Without Borders. 

Jade Chang has worked as an arts and culture journalist and was recently an editor at Goodreads. She is the recipient of a Sundance Arts Journalist fellowship and is a nominee for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. Her debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, is a New York Times Editors' Choice and was named one of the best books of 2016 by Buzzfeed, NPR, Elle, Amazon, and others. The Wangs will be published in 12 countries. NPR said this: "Her book is unrelentingly fun, but it is also raw and profane—a story of fierce pride, fierce anger, and even fiercer love."

Jessie Chaffee photo by Heather Waraksa

Jade Chang photo by Teresa Flowers

Event date: 
Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Florence in Ecstasy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781944700171
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unnamed Press - May 16th, 2017

The Wangs vs. the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328745538
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - June 6th, 2017