Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Bird Catcher

The Bird Catcher

A Novel

Laura Jacobs

St. Martin's Press




Margret Snow is the quintessential New York woman. She dresses the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue by day and mingles in the downtown art world by night, always searching for her niche in a city intent on capturing The Next Big Thing as it flies into view. Married to Charles, a professor at Columbia, and living on the Upper West Side, the backdrop to Margret's life is made up of the poetic rhythms and colors of the Manhattan day: slow-running buses, the gray morning light striking the Hudson, the winter landscape of Riverside Park, the endless round of gallery openings, cocktail parties and grand dinners in the palatial apartments on Manhattan's upper east side. Against this metropolitan whirl, Margret and Charles pursue a lifelong hobby of bird watching, a passion for which was kindled by her grandfather during long-past summers near the shore in Gloucester, Massachusetts. As they shuttle between their Manhattan apartment, birding in the city's parks, and weekends out of town in their house near Cape May, a violent upheaval pushes Margret beyond the boundaries of her hobby. Overnight, she becomes an art world sensation and just as suddenly has fame ripped from her. As Laura Jacobs proved in her first novel, "Women About Town", she understands the natural habitat of the New York Woman in all its complexity. In The Bird Catcher, her second, she moves deeper into that territory with the story of a remarkable woman who is as rare and special as the birds that fill the skies above her.


Chapter One

Margret stood at the stone stairs leading down into the park at 115th Street. The stairs were steep and sinking, pushed in and jutting out. How does such heavy stone get so shifted? Margret always wondered....


Praise for The Bird Catcher

“Laura Jacobs is an urban miniaturist. In her sleek, pitch-perfect second novel, The Bird Catcher, she lavishes delectable attention on the subtle distinctions wrought by taste, class, money, and style in the city on which she trains her eagle eye. But there is nothing diminutive in her vision: Under the force of her piercing, halogen-bright gaze, the world cracks open, large and luminous. . . . One of the novel's keenest pleasures is watching Margret's transformation from passive spectator to active creator . . . No minor feat, this, and without sounding a single wrong note, Jacobs orchestrates her character's sonata as expansively and dramatically as a symphony whose strains linger on, long after the last page has been turned.” —Bookforum

“. . . Margret moves in rarefied Manhattan circles populated with artists, dancers, and collectors. The parties and guests glitter, conversations soar. . . . Jacobs presents a measured and compelling yet nonlinear narrative so that readers encounter Margret's life in pieces. And it is well worth the effort to get to know her. Jacobs' incisive writing captures her characters' moods, while her graceful descriptions of the birds that inspire her protagonist illuminate the story.” —Booklist

“ An enchanting tick for the Reader's Life List.” —Vanity Fair

“Jacobs explores, with pitch-perfect accuracy, both the surface layer of contemporary urban life, and the wild, almost dumb depths of the psyche, where humans confer with birds, and where art, myth and fairytale are born. Margret, the book's grieving heroine, will haunt readers long after her compulsively readable story has come to an end.” —Elizabeth Kendall, author of Autobiography of A Wardrobe and American Daughter

“Intricately detailing the lengths to which a woman must go to heal from a great loss, Laura Jacobs mesmerizes with her haunting prose and thoroughly engrossing subject matter. The Birdcatcher is one of those reads you cannot put down, nor forget once you have finished.” —Amy Scheibe, author of What Do You Do all Day?

“Birds are transformed into art in this wise novel of rebirth, but they are also transforming – people are brought back to imaginative and spiritual life through contact with them, and it is part of the magic of this urban story that it has roots deep in the mystery of the natural world.” —Jonathan Rosen, author of The Life of the Skies: Birding at the End of Nature

“Jacobs writes with intelligence, grace, and an utterly female sensibility.” —People Magazine on Women About Town

“[An] engaging debut novel...Exquisite.” —The Washington Post on Women About Town

“Jane Austen meets Sex and the City...” —Us Weekly on Women About Town

“Funny, and as nuanced as a broken-in Armani jacket.” —The Boston Globe on Women About Town

“Jacobs has written a stylish first novel, the perfect book for readers tired of all those shopworn, familiar novelist names.” —The Wall Street Journal on Women About Town

“[An] Enchanting first novel...Women About Town is immensely fun to read.” —Victoria Magazine on Women About Town

“Breezy, urbane.” —Harper's Bazaar on Women About Town

“...bold storytelling reminiscent of feminist literary icons Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf...resonates with keen, pitch-perfect observations.” —Avenue Magazine on Women About Town

“Irresistible...the book's greatest pleasure likes in Jacobs' sensitivity to self consciousness.” —Newsday on Women About Town

“Jacobs laces a gossipy guilty pleasure with feeling and sophisticated wit.” —Publishers Weekly on Women About Town

“Quiet prose and well-developed characters distinguish this insightful look at the lives of today's career woman.” —Booklist on Women About Town

“Jacobs takes us into the inside world of Vanity Fair and captures its pulse and tempo with exquisite sense and sensibility of a Jane Austen.” —Gloria Vanderbilt on Women About Town

“Women About Town is smart in all senses of the world: stylish, intelligent, fresh. Save it for a bad day: it will make you happy. Laura Jacobs is something rarer than a promising first novelist--a generous one.” —Judith Thurman on Women About Town

“Laura Jacob's writing is winsome, knowing, and cool; her observant novel is like a quick dip in the Lincoln Center foutain.” —Meg Wolitzer on Women About Town

“Women About Town is elegant and witty and charming--much like its charaacters, women who have talent and style and that most marvelous of Manhattan chracteristics: moxie. Laura Jacobs is our new Dawn Powell, but with a more generous heart.” —Kevin Sessums on Women About Town

“Women About Town is a fine, stylish novel, ostensibly about the lives of sophisticated New Yorkers. In reality, it is an honest, moving story about and for women everywhere.” —Nancy Friday on Women About Town

“Charming, funny, beautifully written and compulsively readable, Women about Town is a sheer delight.” —Dani Shapiro on Women About Town

“Jane Austen would be proud.” —Rosie Magazine on Women About Town

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Laura Jacobs

Laura Jacobs is an award-winning contributing editor at Vanity Fair and is the dance critic for The New Criterion. She has written for many other publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, the Village Voice, the New Republic, the Boston Phoenix, and the Chicago Reader. Her first novel, Women About Town, was a Literary Guild Selection. She lives in New York City with her husband, writer James Wolcott.

Laura Jacobs

From the Publisher

St. Martin's Press

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