The Magic Touch, originally published in 1994, was Rachel Simon's second book and debut novel.
A wild, magical realist ride, The Magic Touch is funny, sexy, satirical, linguistically exuberant, and utterly unique. Written as a fictional biography, it tells the life story of a woman with magical sexual powers that she uses to heal people: during the act of making love, her partners re-experience their most painful memories, and as she lives their memories with them, she removes their suffering and takes it into herself, leaving them cleaned, strong, and youthful.
The story follows our heroine from her miraculous birth through her childhood in a magical orphanage to an adulthood where she uncovers sinister conspiracies among political and well-hidden foes. Woven through her story is that of her grandmother, whose mysterious background propels the story forward in ways that begin as Faustian and end up as spiritual. The story culminates in an spectacular — and hilarious — showdown between the forces of good and evil.
The e-book rerelease of The Magic Touch in 2015 includes a new introduction that should be a must-read for fans of this book and aspiring writers everywhere. It reveals the background of how Rachel Simon stumbled upon the idea at the heart of the story, the long journey she took to producing the book, and the kind words given by a respected professor that inspired her, at her lowest moment, to pick herself up and keep going.
The Magic Touch was Rachel Simon's second book and first novel. It was a 1994 selection of the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program, which highlights books of exceptional literary quality from authors at the start of their careers.
The original edition of The Magic Touch is out of print. It can be purchased through booksellers specializing in used books. The re-release can be ordered through online booksellers, or by clicking on the purchase link below.
Click below to purchase the eBook Little Nightmares, Little Dreams
Rachel Simon's debut, originally published as a hardback book in 1990 and re-released as an e-book in 2015, is a collection of stories about the struggle to find, or hold onto, love and intimacy. These tales are told from the point of view of adolescent girls wrestling with their sexuality, young mothers embracing their children, and elderly women fearing the loss of family. Some stories are firmly rooted in reality, others tread into magical realism or surrealism; tones range from serious to comic and sunny to dark. Throughout the book, Simon employs such a wide range of voices — sweet, shrewd, wistful, irascible, vulnerable, sensual — that the Philadelphia Inquirer hailed her as "a literary ventriloquist."
The re-release of Little Nightmares, Little Dreams includes an introduction, in which Rachel discusses how she went from a total unknown, with no connections, no literary pedigree, no agent, and only a handful of published stories, to snagging a big New York editor at Houghton Mifflin – all on her own – and launching her writing career. The new edition also includes the original sixteen stories plus four new ones. Many of them touch on themes familiar to fans of Rachel's later books, Riding The Bus With My Sister and The Story of Beautiful Girl.
Among the highlights in Little Nightmares, Little Dreams are the title story, in which an loving elderly couple enter a dark journey into the unknown when they try to dream the same dream; "Paint," in which an emotionally desperate runaway-turned-artist's-model provokes protests after her own naked body becomes the canvas; "Afterglow," where a plucky thirteen-year-old playing hooky finds herself held hostage by an escaped convict; "Grandma Death," where an overbearing grandmother can't seem to go anywhere without someone dropping dead; and "Better Than A Box of Dreams," in which a maid irritated by her boss's dream therapy sessions dreams her own fondest wish back to life.
Several of these stories had lives beyond the printed page. The title story was adapted for NPR, the Lifetime Channel, and Chillingtalesfordarknights.com. Three other stories, "Paint," "The Speed of Love," and "Better Than A Box of Dreams," were adapted for the stage.
The original edition of Little Nightmares, Little Dreams is out of print. It can be purchased through booksellers specializing in used books. The re-release can be ordered through online booksellers, or by clicking on the purchase link below.
Click below to purchase the eBook Little Nightmares, Little Dreams
In the ten years since Rachel Simon first invited the world to board the bus with her and her sister, Cool Beth, readers across the globe have been moved by their story. Now, in an updated edition, Rachel Simon reflects on changes in her life, Beth's life, and the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The highlight is Beth's update, which is in her own words. A new reader's guide is also included. Join these two unforgettable sisters on their journey, this time in an even deeper and richer way.
Rachel Simon's sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has an intellectual disability, spends her days riding the buses in her unnamed Pennsylvania city. The drivers, a lively group, are her mentors; her fellow passengers are her community. One day, Beth asks Rachel to accompany her on the buses for an entire year. This wise, funny, deeply affecting true story is the chronicle of that remarkable time. Rachel, a writer and college teacher whose hyperbusy life camouflaged her emotional isolation, had much to learn in her sister's extraordinary world. Full of life lessons from which any reader will profit, Riding the Bus with My Sister is "a heartwarming, life-affirming journey through both the present and the past . . . [that] might just change your life" (Boston Herald)
Elegantly woven throughout the odyssey are riveting memories of terrifying maternal abandonment, fierce sisterly loyalty, and astonishing forgiveness. Rachel Simon brings to light the almost invisible world of adults with developmental disabilities, finds unlikely heroes in everyday life, and, without sentimentality, portrays Beth as the endearing, feisty, independent person she is. This heartwarming memoir about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters takes the reader on an inspirational journey at once unique and universal.
Riding the Bus with My Sister was made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring Rosie O'Donnell and Andie McDowell, and directed by Anjelica Huston.
Click below to purchase the eBook Riding The Bus With My Sister
It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution, the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape, and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." And so begins the 40-year epic journey of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia-lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.
Click below to purchase the eBook The Story Of Beautiful Girl
The House On Teacher's Lane is the paperback edition of the 2009 book Building A Home With My Husband.
The House On Teacher's Lane is one of those rare books where readers dog-ear pages and send quotes to friends. Within its pages, you'll discover your own unspoken thoughts, recognize your own hopes and dreams, and be inspired to ponder your own most difficult relationships. You'll laugh and be moved throughout the book, and will come to feel that Rachel Simon is your kindred spirit.
The story opens when Rachel and her architect husband Hal begin to renovate their house on Teacher's Lane, and she braces herself for the ups and downs that often accompany such projects. But to her surprise, as the old walls fall, and new paint appears, she is propelled into a transformative journey that encompasses the deepest issues of life and love. With compassion and humor, The House On Teacher's Lane shimmers with memorable insights into the power of forgiveness, the struggle to find meaning and purpose, the compatibility of imperfection and happiness, and the ways broken bonds can be mended. Home renovation becomes a beautiful allegory for re-evaluating and repairing the most intimate of relationships.
Rachel Simon's warm and hopeful narrative will resonate with anyone who's ever cherished a friend, grown apart from a sibling, felt disappointed by a parent, searched for true love, questioned their life choices, or wondered where to go from here. The House On Teacher's Lane is for everyone who's ever experienced love in its many forms-and wrestled with its hardest questions.
Click below to purchase the eBook The House On Teacher's Lane