The Real Mrs. Tobias About the Book Praise Discussion Guide

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Praise For The Real Mrs. Tobias

Named a “must-read book of 2022” by Zibby Owens for

“Four generations of the Tobias family take center stage in The Real Mrs. Tobias, the latest from Sally Koslow (Another Side of Paradise, 2018). Social worker Melanie Glazer is used to running interference between her imposing mother-in-law, Veronika, and the rest of the family, which seems to be growing more dysfunctional every day. Mel’s father-in-law is showing early signs of dementia; her daughter has decided to have a baby with her flighty girlfriend; and her son Micah’s marriage is on the rocks, thanks to a drunk-driving accident. When Micah’s wife flees to her Iowa hometown with their daughter, Mel worries that this could be the end of her close relationship with her preschool-age granddaughter. The point of view alternates with each chapter, but only Mel’s chapters are written in first person, giving the reader a sense of camaraderie with Mel as she navigates her complicated family. Koslow shapes all of these moving parts into a compelling family drama, rich in insight and detail and honest in its depiction of women’s roles as family caregivers. Fans of Ann Patchett and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney will feel right at home with the Tobias family.
—Nanette Donahue, Booklist

“Koslow wastes no chance to reveal some universal truth, usually delivered on an heirloom platter of wit. ..Perfect for readers of Emma Straub, J. Courtney Sullivan and Elizabeth Strout, The Real Mrs. Tobias is a witty, compassionate novel about obligation, family power, complicated dynamics and, of course, the never-ending war between mothers- and daughters-in-law. It is a testament to the power of love and family, and a tongue-in-cheek romp through the moments of sheer entropy behind every beautiful family photo.”

“With a shrewd eye and a light touch, Sally Koslow weaves a story about three strong women whose memories, dreams, and desires conflict and intersect as they navigate a series of family crises. Warm, witty, and heartfelt, The Real Mrs. Tobias is a cinematic, fast-paced treat.”
— Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including The Exiles and The Orphan Train

“Sally Koslow channels Nora Ephron in this lively tale of obligation versus desire and the politics of family power. Deftly written with equal parts intelligence, pathos, and humor, THE REAL MRS. TOBIAS is a pure pleasure to read.”
— Therese Anne Fowler, New York Times bestselling author of It All Comes Down to This

“I love mother-daughter stories, so I was delighted to see Koslow’s ingenious new focus on mothers and daughter-in laws! Told by three vivid women all sharing the same family name — the matriarch, her daughter-in-law and then the next daughter-in-law — this is such a profound, powerful and smartly funny story that it made me reappreciate my own mother-in-law, even as if let me live through this oh-so-important relationship through this amazing book. Deeply original, about the bonds that break—and remake female relationships, The Real Mrs. Tobias is the real deal.”
— Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You

“This power struggle between mothers- and daughters-in-law over how to handle a wrenching family secret is told with emotional intelligence and Koslow’s signature wit. Tart and nutritious, as refreshing as a raspberry vinaigrette.”
— Jenna Blum, NYT bestselling author of The Lost Family and Woodrow on the Bench

“With razor-sharp prose, wit and depth, Sally Koslow’s The Real Mrs. Tobias takes us down the MIL Road … the one that should come with a warning: No Trespassing. Danger Ahead. Koslow, a gifted storyteller, recounts what happens when three generations of women who marry Tobias men are thrown together into the dysfunctional ditch. You will laugh, you will cry, you will empathize – and if you happen to be a Daughter-in-Law – you will say, Better her than me. Yet just when you think there is no way back, Koslow’s page-turner will prove that while family ties can strangle, they also can keep you bound together through love, loss, secrets, and healing.”
— Lisa Barr, USA Today bestselling author of Woman on Fire

“Wry, knowing, and devastatingly insightful, The Real Mrs. Tobias illuminates the precarious bond between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. United by their love of the same men, three very different women struggle for control of their relationships and their lives in Sally Koslow’s riveting novel. I nodded in agreement and laughed out loud though the whole book, and walked away with fresh insights into my life as a mother-in-law, a daughter-in-law, and a woman.”
— Pamela Redmond, author of Younger

“Sally Koslow mines the turmoil and joy of an extended family with insight, humor, and tenderness.”
— Hilma Wolitzer, author of Today a Woman Went Mad in the Supermarket

“This story had me reeling, laughing, crying and sighing — sometimes all at once. The characters are completely honest and relatable, with their quirks and eccentricities. Each chapter was narrated by one of the Tobias women, so it was easy to build a rapport and camaraderie with all of them. When Veronika, Mel and Birdie reveal their vulnerable, emotional sides, it only made me love them more. The Real Mrs. Tobias is a charmingly heart-wrenching read, and I flew through the pages. The plot was easy to invest in, and Koslow’s ending delivered on all fronts.”
—Erin Clemence, GoodReads and Instagram

The Real Mrs. Tobias has it all: a clash of cultures, finely wrought language, loving and funny characters, and a touch of rivalry running through the vein of a dysfunctional family. Another winner from Sally Koslow!”
—Weina Dai Randel, author of three historical novels, including The Last Rose of Shanghai

“From the first pages, the author delivers a story filled with experiences and emotions shared by any woman who has ever held an in-law title. Those relationships can be rather tricky. In this case, Veronika has the senior title, with Mel next, followed by Birdie. It was easy to relate to Mel as she deferred to Veronika’s sense of tradition. As the newest Mrs. Tobias, Birdie finds herself somewhat without an anchor when she and her husband experience a serious challenge. Meanwhile, Veronika and Mel, both psychotherapists, have opinions to share. This turmoil provides the catalyst for change, causing ripples throughout the family. Aging parents, failed expectations, and the pull of home combine in this multi-generational story packed with emotion. It’s a beautiful story about imperfect relationships and the wisdom that comes from others. The Real Mrs. Tobias generates high marks for delivering a captivating story full of relatable characters struggling with personal difficulties.”
—Amy Wilson,

“In the delivery room, the obstetrician delivered good news to my mother: ‘It’s another boy.’ My mother’s immediate reaction: ‘Damn! Another daughter-in-law!’ Some of my marital history suggests my mother was wise. Sally Koslow and I are friends and I was an enthusiast for The Widow Waltz, but it was with caution that I approached The Real Mrs. Tobias. There are two daughters-in-law in this family, and there are not one but two psychotherapists, who fulfill the commonly accepted truth that therapists may be brilliant for their patients, but they’re often astonishingly dense about their own neuroses. The year is 2015, the setting is New York City, and the conversation is just as clever and intimate as outsiders imagine. But this is not NYC Plot 101. The son does something stupid in his car and drives away, and no amount of cajoling by his family can get him to do the right thing. Distressed, his wife flees to her family’s home in the Midwest, where she finds comfort and — no surprise — a boyfriend. This ratchets the tension in New York. A stressed family makes for drama and larger questions. Sally Koslow handles them masterfully. My mother could have benefited from this book.”
—Jesse Kornbluth,

“This is a book about…a particular family with three alpha women who try to negotiate dangerous turf around each other and their spouses and children. It will make you cringe and laugh, often at the same time … The descriptions of both city and country life are vivid. ‘Birdie’s eyes meet the Brooklyn Bridge with its tinsel of cables and cords, a structural poem honoring the city, and she sighs.’ When Veronica visits Birdie in Iowa, she declines an invitation to stay at someone’s home there. ‘Veronika also loathes being anyone’s house guest, which too often comes with a shifty, shedding cat who slinks along kitchen counters and the requirement to leave your shoes at the door, putting your bunions on display.’ Koslow gives voice, emotion and character like this to each of her women. A funny yet thoughtful read.”
—Penny A Parrish, The Free-Lance Star

“All families have drama, to (sort of) paraphrase Tolstoy. But it takes an exceptionally perceptive writer to explore that drama in a way that not only finds unexpected nuance and connection within it, but shows readers something of themselves. Even better if it makes them laugh–like, spit-out-your-coffee laugh–in the process. In The Real Mrs. Tobias Sally Koslow has once more checked all these boxes, crafting an immersive, emotionally-rich narrative that hones in on the bonds–sometimes gritty, sometimes fraying but always enduring—between three generations of Tobias women struggling with damaging secrets, maternal rivalries, dementia, and (oh, yeah) aging together. It’s a truly joyous read, and one that will stay with you long after those coffee stains on your shirt and couch have been washed away.”
— Jennifer Cody Epstein, bestselling author of Wunderland: A Novel

“The story of three women who married into the Tobias family, their subtle as well as acerbic interactions and their shared dilemmas. A fun, humorous read … I cheered for each of the three prima donnas.”
— Ripe Reads

“As the mother-in-law to two daughters-in-law, I fret over what I should and shouldn’t do. Or what I did or didn’t say. As wonderful as my sons’ wives are – and they are! – mother- and daughter-in-law relationships are tricky. I ripped through the page-turning story about family dynamics and the ups and downs of mother- and daughter-in-law behavior. Sally Koslow…weaves a heartwarming story told by the three generations of strong Tobias women. Confronted with surprises, struggles, and loss, Veronika, Mel, and Birdie work to solve problems and try to hold their family together. But are they the people who should confront these issues? This mother-in-law learned some excellent lessons!”

The Real Mrs. Tobias by Sally Koslow is the second book I’ve read from this author and I’m now certain that she is an assured and relatable storyteller. The book revolves around the mothering of adult children, relationships with mothers-in-laws, being a grandmother and wanting your kids to do the right thing when they’ve done something very wrong. It’s about family acceptance, fitting in, marriage and familial pride. You can see how all the above can make this book quite relevant. When I finished reading, I couldn’t wait to talk to other readers about it. Having both the mother and mother-in-law both part of the psychotherapy world was satirically appropriate. Getting inside Mel’s head during her sessions with clients was very interesting to read as well. I really enjoyed this story and think it’s a perfect for women’s fiction readers.”
— Lauren Margolin, The Good Book Fairy

“Women’s book club fiction at its finest: If Tom Wolfe came together with Nora Ephron, the result would be Sally Koslow’s insightful and amusing page-turner. It’s a generous novel about three generations of tsuris in a contemporary Manhattan matriarchy. The characters are full and rounded and complicated. It’s an absolute delight watching them bounce against each other, competing and consoling and caring deeply in a modern world that is rapidly changing around them. Highly recommended!”
—Thelma Adams, author of The Last Woman Standing and Bittersweet Brooklyn

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