Three Keys

Three Keys

A Novel

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July 16, 2024 | ISBN 9780593909782

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About the Book

Newly widowed and unemployed, a woman in her mid-fifties sets off on a journey of trespassing and adventure through the American West and beyond in this witty, thought-provoking novel from the PEN USA Award–winning writer.

“Filled with award-winner Pritchett’s electric prose and love of the natural world, this book is irresistible.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Days of Wonder

Becoming invisible is painful . . . unless you know how to work it.

Ammalie Brinks has just lost the three keys of her life’s purpose—her husband, her job, and her role as a mom, after her son went off to college. She’s also mystified to find herself in middle age: How exactly had that happened? The terrifying idea of becoming irrelevant, invisible, of letting her life slip away Into obscurity, has her driving distracted through Nebraska with a broken plastic fork in her tangled hair.

But what Ammalie has found are three literal keys, saved in a drawer for years, from her and her husband’s past. They are the keys to homes that she hopes will be empty—and plans on spending time in. Embarking on an international and increasingly complicated journey (criminal behavior turns out to be challenging!), she seeks to find a life truly her own. And that middle-age business? As someone breaking the law, Ammalie finds there's a real benefit to being invisible when you’re working on becoming the striking, bold, and very much manifested self you want to be.

Laura Pritchett, winner of the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Colorado Book Award, offers a delightful exploration of the very serious business of living a full and honest life. Filled with love, heartbreak, and misdemeanors, Three Keys tackles the unavoidable sorrows and joys experienced during a second coming of age with the zest and vigor that it deserves.

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Praise for Three Keys

“Laura Pritchett gives us an unforgettable portrait of a woman—every woman—who has lived a life for others and needs to start living for herself. Recently widowed Ammalie isn’t entirely sure how she feels about her late husband and so sets off to find him in the places he most loved. Fancying herself a fugitive, not deserving of society, she finds instead a world full of grace and compassion—for herself, her journey, and for all who grieve. This is a beautiful, funny, meditative novel that will bring you to tears with its optimism.”—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of California Golden and The Swans of Fifth Avenue

“In her mid-fifties, everything about Ammalie’s life changes. She knew the empty nest was coming, but the loss of her job and her husband’s sudden death are brutal, unexpected blows. Reeling, she sets off on a trip she doesn’t quite know how to define. Is it a quest or an escape? A crime spree or a hero’s journey? Pritchett has written a beautiful, age-defying story about discovering your inextricable connection to the whole wide world. This is a book to hold close not only while you read, but as you march into your own battles against the joys and terrors of a life in constant motion.”—Nina de Gramont, author of The Christie Affair

“How could I not adore a book featuring a strong, feisty, fifty-something woman, who despite being widowed, unemployed, and empty-nested, goes out on the road to break into three very different homes she just happens to have the keys to? Audacious and inspiring, Three Keys isn’t just about breaking in, it’s about breaking out, of finding the person you were meant to be all along, despite anyone else’s expectations or insistence that you be invisible. Filled with award-winner Pritchett’s electric prose and love of the natural world, this book is irresistible.”—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and Days of Wonder

“You wouldn’t expect a book about grief, fear, and climate anxiety to be un-put-down-able, and yet: I read the final third in one sitting, eager to follow Ammalie’s adventures to the end.”—Blythe Roberson, author of America the Beautiful?: One Woman in a Borrowed Prius on the Road Most Traveled

“Newly-widowed Ammalie’s road-trip hijinks are a reader’s delight, but underneath is a journey toward self-discovery as genuine and imperfect as the protagonist herself. Laura Pritchett brings grief and hope together in this hilarious, heartfelt story of one woman’s solo journey through her past, present, and future.”—Shelby Van Pelt, New York Times bestselling author of Remarkably Bright Creatures

“Engaging . . . thought-provoking and insightful. A satisfying examination of one woman’s journey of self-discovery.”Kirkus Reviews
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About the Author

Laura Pritchett
Laura Pritchett is the author of five novels and two books of nonfiction. Her work is rooted in the American West and has been significantly influenced by her upbringing in Colorado. Both her fiction and nonfiction often focus on issues of ecology, conservation, climate change, and social justice. She has been awarded the PEN USA Award for Fiction, the High Plains Literary Award, the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, the Colorado Book Award, the WILLA Fiction Award, and shortlisted for many others. She is the editor of three anthologies, all on environmental topics, and writes regularly for magazines. More by Laura Pritchett
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