PRAISE FOR THE MANICURIST-- "Schieber has painted a fine portrait of the struggles and challenges of being different in an unforgiving world. Her characters are authentic and touching. Using language that is at once both straightforward and evocative, Schieber writes a story that you will...

Phyllis Schieber


A Review by Susan Wingate

In her latest novel, “The Sinners Guide to Confession,” author Phyllis Schieber takes shockingly funny situations and develops them into touching and poignant moments.

As I sat reading this book it seemed as though the pages were flipping out of control and I envisioned gusts of wind blowing through an open book. The story flows so elegantly it’s hard to maintain a rational speed while reading this gem of a tale. It’s like crème brulee, sumptuous. You want to keep licking the spoon.

“The Sinners Guide to Confession” tells a story of three best friends who live in New York City. As we read along, Schieber’s story builds in intensity until each woman’s secret is revealed. And the revealing of these women’s secrets is done with a master’s hand. As the reader is swept under by the story, she realizes there are only a few pages left to savor and stops for any reason to slow the words down but really it’s just a ploy. Schieber won’t let you slow down. Her characters’ gripping personalities, their love for each other and their problems are so simple and real that you’ll be baited with each noun, each verb, each tantalizing quotation mark or period and you’ll whisper to yourself, “Darn. I’m almost done.” As I neared the end of this palpable tale I kept repeating to myself, “I hope she writes a sequel.” I became invested in the lives of her characters’, the lives of their husbands’, mothers’ and fathers’, their brothers’ and sisters’ in-law, and, of course, their children’s.

Her plot development is, dare I say, genius. The arc of the story is like driving along a highway with important scenes perfectly paced and each getting closer and more beautiful as you approach. Until, all at once you close in on the climax when, hold onto your seats, the road falls away and you’re sent screaming over the edge but you realize you’re screaming with joy. Schieber finds a voice in each of her characters that is distinct and true. Her dialogue is refreshingly natural. But, the exhilaration doesn’t end at the climax. Schieber prolongs delicious moments throughout the denouement and resolution with the artistry of a Rembrandt.

She nails female relationships and exhibits a deep understanding of the woman’s psyche, a woman’s relationship with other women, and women-in-love. It’s a total package. Within these (too short) three hundred and seventy-one pages, you’ll find joy and sex, strife and sex, loneliness and sex, even the unadulterated love of a woman for her child. And, oh, did I mention sex?

Okay, about the sex, it’s not that bawdy, raunchy stuff you’ll read on the internet. No. The sex is added with an acute eye for detail and only when ab-so-lute-ly necessary. Plus, Schieber’s sex scenes are delirious. I love this book.

As I ended the story I found I had to stop many times to wipe my nose. Have a box of Kleenex handy and a good amount of time set aside because you will not want to set this book down. Simply put, “The Sinner’s Guide to Confession” is a must read for every woman, man and child out there. Well done, Ms. Schieber, you’ve raised the bar for women’s fiction. Now, get busy and give us more. – Susan Wingate (author of “Bobby’s Diner” and “Of the Law”), January 16, 2009.

The Sinner’s Guide to Confession Review by Gita Tewari

Female friendships go through different seasons, just as our lives have different seasons. Whether your husband leaves you for a twenty-something law clerk at his firm, you’re grieving the death of a spouse who kept secrets from you, or you’re in the midst of a marriage that is foundering, the common thread is that your friends are always there to help you pick up the pieces. That is the theme of The Sinner’s Guide to Confession, a new book by Phyllis Schieber. Not being familiar with Schieber’s work, I was somewhat bemused by the title of the book when I signed on to participate in the virtual book tour for this novel, but I decided to keep an open mind.

The women in this novel are all of a certain age and heading toward that treacherous territory when one starts to feel “invisible” in a society that worships youth and beauty. They are also on the cusp of an exciting period of self-discovery, finally gaining the courage to show oneself to the world—warts and all.

The main characters, Barbara, Kaye and Ellen, are longtime friends, but each has secrets she has not shared with her friends or family. An established writer of romance novels, Barbara has a talent for writing erotic novels—though she writes them under a pseudonym. Kaye is conflicted about her affair with a younger man who elicits emotions in her that she hasn’t experienced with her husband in years. Ellen is haunted by the memories of her teenage pregnancy and the baby daughter she was forced to give up for adoption.

An anchor throughout the novel is Kaye’s mother, a strong and forceful woman who is struggling with her own issues of independence and aging, but somehow manages to face these new challenges with grace and dignity. I immediately felt pulled into this novel and the finely drawn characters. The writing is fresh and engaging and the main players are real, strong, flawed, and eminently likeable. While I found The Sinner’s Guide to Confession predictable at times, it was still a worthwhile read.



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