What Could Be Saved: A Novel (Hardcover)

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A message from Thailand and the draw of a decades’ old mystery is just the beginning of one of the most remarkable novels of the year. Philip Preston has been missing since he was a child during the Preston’s family stay in Thailand. Forty years later, the possibility of his reemergence has his younger sister Laura racing to the airport and away from questions about her own life. But her reconnection with the past is more than just a mission to bring her brother home—it is an opportunity to understand what happened to drive the surviving family members apart. The writing is completely immersive as we travel from the streets of Bangkok in the '70s to present day Washington D.C., where Schwarz skillfully reveals that the true mystery does not lie in where Philip has been but in how to allow others to love us as we are.

— From Elaine & Luisa's Picks: Winter 2021

January 2021 Indie Next List

“Wow. What a riveting read! Part family saga, part mystery, What Could Be Saved is just extraordinary. It is a moving, powerful story of loss and regret, loyalty and redemption. Schwarz’s crisp, lyrical prose lays bare the emotional journey of each member of this unforgettable family. These beautifully drawn, tragically flawed characters will remain with me long after turning the last page.”
— Anderson McKean, Page and Palette, Fairhope, AL


“This brilliant portrayal of the lives of expats and their servants is also a suspenseful mystery with ever-darkening twists. For fans of A Little Life and The Goldfinch.” —People, Book of the Week

Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Bea as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared forty years earlier when the family lived in Bangkok, Laura ignores Bea’s warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true. But meeting him in person leads to more questions than answers.

Bangkok, 1972: Genevieve and Robert Preston live in a beautiful house behind a high wall, raising their three children with the help of a cadre of servants. In these exotic surroundings, Genevieve strives to create a semblance of the life they would have had at home in the US—ballet and riding classes for the children, impeccable dinner parties, a meticulously kept home. But in truth, Robert works for American intelligence, Genevieve finds herself drawn into a passionate affair with her husband’s boss, and their serene household is vulnerable to unseen dangers in a rapidly changing world and a country they don’t really understand.

Alternating between past and present as all of the secrets are revealed, What Could Be Saved is an unforgettable novel about a family shattered by loss and betrayal, and the beauty that can exist even in the midst of brokenness.

About the Author

Liese O’Halloran Schwarz, a former emergency medicine doctor, published her first novel Near Canaan while still in medical school. She is also the author of the acclaimed novel The Possible World and the forthcoming What Could Be Saved. She currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Praise For…

Praise for What Could Be Saved

"A delicious hybrid of mystery, drama, and elegance:  rich with detail, lush in language, and capable of keeping you on the edge of your seat. " —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things

"What Could Be Saved transported me. Liese O'Halloran Schwarz’s exquisite and memorable writing has me still thinking about the ways in which the past influences the present, the complexities of family life, and the ways we negotiate challenges, tragedies, and secrets." —Lisa See, New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

“Superb...Schwarz is a remarkable storyteller...[This] stellar work is riveting.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Immersive, profoundly moving, and gorgeously told... an unforgettable reading experience." —Laura Sims, author of Looker

"A gripping story of a family unraveling and the sibling love that ultimately endures. A great read.”—Jessica Francis Kane, author of Rules for Visiting

“A richly imagined page-turner that delivers twists alongside thought-provoking commentary." —Kirkus Reviews

“A rich, complex novel…and just the kind of book you want to sink into on a winter’s day.” –Real Simple, Top Picks

“Schwarz reveals all in compelling, 'can't put it down' prose while at the same time building masterfully developed characters.” —Booklist

“This brilliant portrayal of the lives of expats and their servants is also a suspenseful mystery with ever-darkening twists. For fans of A Little Life and The Goldfinch.” —People, Book of the Week  
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982150617
ISBN-10: 1982150610
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: January 12th, 2021
Pages: 464
Language: English