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The Stager

3.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  188 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
The Stager is a comedy of rabbits and real estate in the D.C. suburbs from Susan Coll, the author of Acceptance and Beach Week

Dominique is one very bitter rabbit. His owner, Lars Jorgenson, is a former tennis pro who has blown out both knees, become obese, and is now addicted to a cocktail of prescription drugs containing the letters X and Z, one weird side-effect of which
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 8th 2014 by Sarah Crichton Books
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Mary Kay Zuravleff
May 05, 2014 Mary Kay Zuravleff rated it it was amazing
In her best novel yet, Susan Coll masterfully turns suburban life inside out. To the stager hired to depersonalize a house, every knickknack tells a story; namely, that Eve is beautifying the home of her former best friend, Bella, whose husband Lars is a top-seeded tennis player gone to seed. Fortunately for us readers, the way Lars downs his X- and Z-named meds renders him omniscient, a brilliant device that allows him to narrate his own struggles as well as his wife's shenanigans. The Stager i ...more
Jul 25, 2014 Robin rated it it was amazing
Susan Coll can craft beautiful sentence after beautiful sentence. Her take on the Bethesda D.C. area is laugh-out-loud perfect. Plus she works at Politics and Prose and what's not to love about that? My only complaint is that in the best books, you just need someone to root for and these characters are not admirable at all. Read it for the writing and the situation, but go say hi to the author at P and P if you want to meet a really nice person.
Jul 28, 2014 Amber rated it liked it
Every other chapter is written from a perspective of either the dad, or the daughter or as the book continues on, someone else. I started skipping the father's point of view! Kind of a weird, quirky book...but I got thru it. Don't know if I would recommend it to everyone, but I know a few folks would really get into the weirdness of this one. Don't know if I'll read anything else by Susan Coll. Was kind of hoping to get inside of the head of someone who was a "home stager". Didn't really happen ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
It takes roughly four to six minutes for prospective buyers to decide whether or not they like your home. Maybe they don’t like the color of the walls, your taste in decorations or your choice in monthly publications. These are all things that could cause potential buyers not to purchase your home, even though they are all things that can be changed about the house. This is where a stager comes in, or more importantly our stager, Eve Brenner. Eve is a stager working for Amanda, one of DC’s best ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Leila rated it really liked it
You can read my full review here:

Susan Coll’s The Stager is a wry and witty dark comedy about real estate, marriage, friendship, and modern life in upper middle class suburbia. Coll sets her tale in affluent Bethesda, Maryland, where a professional “stager” has been hired to help prepare a house for sale. The stager realizes that she has a tangled personal history with the owner of the house—a hot shot banker named Bella. Bella lives in the home with her
Marissa Morrison
Dec 05, 2014 Marissa Morrison rated it it was amazing
What makes this so appealing?

Quirky storytelling methods: A character may or may not be omnisciently experiencing action through the eyes of another character. Also, he may be at a tea party with a pet rabbit.

The three characters who tell this story are likeable sorts. There's the self-conscious, precocious and emotionally vulnerable 10-year-old who tries her best to enjoy the company of the adults around her while taking everything they tell her at face value. There's also a once-handsome, once
Michelle Brafman
Oct 18, 2014 Michelle Brafman rated it it was amazing
The Stager grabbed me by the throat. The writing is phenomenal, and while the humor is dark and wicked, at the core of this novel lies Susan Coll's huge beating heart. She writes beautifully about the secrets and friendships that define us, and there is so much wisdom in these pages that about a third of the way through I started reading with a pad of post-it notes.

The novel moves seamlessly between three narrators, each of whom have been damaged by the same woman. I don't think I've ever cheere
Lisa Beaulieu
Jul 30, 2014 Lisa Beaulieu rated it really liked it
I picked this up after reading a favorable review that called it a comedy. My worry was that it was going to be fluff ... ummm, no. I did not laugh once, although it was clever. It was an amazing portrait of a narcissist, from the differing viewpoints of those around her. Having put in my own time with a narcissist, I was not amused, but I was incredibly impressed with the insight and description. The ending is so satisfying, true to life, hopeful but with no big bow tying it all up. Upon finish ...more
Sep 11, 2014 Eileen rated it did not like it
She started off well with an interesting situation, but then the author couldn't figure out how to do exposition without having the husband read the wife's mind from 3000 miles away. I don't know of any psycho-drug that has long-distance mind-melding as a side effect. Then we get into the conversation with the stoner runaway rabbit, who is trying to do marriage counseling. Not to mention the missing spleen. And then we have the stoned stager, who passes out from the "tea" but still manages to ge ...more
Aug 12, 2014 Erin rated it liked it
This is the third book by Susan Coll that I have read. She writes about very wealthy, clueless modern liberals....the type of people that no one really likes in real life....this carries over into fiction as well.
This book was highly readable, but the changing viewpoints between characters is confusing. This story would have worked so much better being told from one point of view, with maybe the rabbit parts thrown in.
Overall, the story shows how one selfish person has made ruins of the lives
Caroline Anna Bock
Apr 27, 2015 Caroline Anna Bock rated it really liked it
I read The Stager and The Rockville Pike back-to-back. These novel are peopled with characters who have more "first world" issues than most but done with such intricate language, distinctive voices, I enjoyed them immensely— admittedly, almost as a social study at times— perhaps, akin to the way I read Updike these days (on the rare times I read Updike). But in my world, Susan Coll is a writer worth reading. I'll be watching for her next book!
Feb 25, 2015 Erin rated it it was ok
Not into this book. I had to skip the parts written by Lars. Drug addicts don't get much sympathy from me. I also didn't care about how the Stager knew the homeowner. And the kid was annoying with her misbehavior. It got very strange with all the talking rabbit business at the end. Would not recommend this book. I didn't see the point of it.
Oct 31, 2014 Rita rated it really liked it
Very funny and touching. Coll indulges in some meta-fiction; at one point a man and a rabbit have a lengthy argument about how to tell his story, but somehow it all works. The rabbit even has the last word! Satire of upscale real estate enclaves, kids raised by nannies, and more themes of modern life is spot on. A very enjoyable read!
Uwe Hook
Nov 08, 2014 Uwe Hook rated it it was ok
This *could* have been funny, but wasn't. I kept hoping things would improve, but alas the end was even worse. No resolution between The Stager and Bella; no fix for Lars; no idea how the move to London went -- very disappointing. It felt a terrible waste of time. Should have washed my hair instead.
Julie Langsdorf
Jul 30, 2014 Julie Langsdorf rated it it was amazing
Susan Coll's latest is a whimsical romp through through affluent suburban Maryland, London and the drug-induced workings of one former tennis player's mind. Her sharp wit and brilliance combine with a magical realism that is entertaining and unexpected. Her best yet.
Sep 14, 2015 Tracy rated it it was ok
I've liked this author's other books, but I'm very lukewarm on this book. Bella is selling her house and hires a stager (Eve) to come to the house and jazz it up. Bella and her husband are in England for her job. He is a former tennis player and addicted to a variety of anti depressives and anti anxiety medication, the combination of which lead him to be able to have somewhat of an omniscient viewpoint - he actually can "see" through Bella's eyes the things she is experiencing.

Separately, their
Aug 29, 2014 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
A tale of modern suburbia told in alternating chapters by Lars, a drugged-out former tennis star; Elsa, his ten-year-old daughter daughter who is distraught over her missing pet rabbit and an impending move to London; Eve, the stager of the title with a secret connected to the family; and even Dominique, the pet rabbit! The rambling tale leaves the reader alternately feeling as if she,too, might be as whacked out as Lars or possibly has fallen down a rabbit-hole ala Alice in Wonderland. Ms Coll ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Miriam rated it it was ok
This seemed like it could use a few revisions, or some additional chapters. Intriguing premise, but not a lot of depth.
Sep 28, 2014 Fran rated it liked it
I never realized what an important person "a stager" is--someone who is depersonalizing your home to market it to the max in the real estate game. This book is the interweaving of Eve Brenner, the stager, her former dear friend Bella and her husband, who has fallen from the ranks of professional tennis players. Then there's the pet rabbit, Dominique, who is the pet of a very precocious 10 year old Bella. It's a slow-moving, often bizarre, psychological look at what's real and what isn't in every ...more
Jul 30, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Despite how long it took me to finish this book, I loved it. With that said, it's not for everyone. It's trippy in places, but also very dark and offbeat. I think it's wonderful, but I can see how the humor and cynicism would go over the heads of some.

It's hard for me to fully describe my appreciation of this book. I borrowed it from the library, but if I hadn't, I would have taken a highlighter to sections of it. It resonated with me so deeply. I was raised in Montgomery County, where this book
Becky Motew
Jan 27, 2015 Becky Motew rated it liked it
Three and a half stars, though I thought when I was reading the beginning, that it was going to be four or five stars. Quirky and funny and wonderful character voices. When did it break down? It was definitely gone by the time Lars was talking to the rabbit and the rabbit was talking to him. A disappointing ending for my two cents.

Jordana Horn Gordon
Nov 17, 2014 Jordana Horn Gordon rated it really liked it
If you liked Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, this is for you. Definitely not a comedy and definitely not about real estate: it's a deep observation into who people are and why, how we project ourselves to the world versus how we see ourselves.
Erin Harty
Jan 14, 2016 Erin Harty rated it liked it
This book had promise- it started out with a good story. It was quirky and interesting until the last third. Toward the end it just got too weird- like the author couldn't decide how the story should end.
Nov 25, 2015 Nicole rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Parts of this book were funny. It reminded me a little of the movie Being John Malkovich in that, through a combination of prescription drugs, the husband character is able to enter the mind of his wife. I had a hard time staying interested in and connected to the story, though. And the ending was a bit of a fizzle for me.
Oct 17, 2014 Deedee rated it it was ok
Even though this was rather witty and fun in parts, it was largely a waste of time. However, if you have ever had your house staged for real estate purposes, you will relate to the stager's dilemma and the family's discomfort.
Mar 28, 2015 Lisa rated it did not like it
YUCK. Gave up after reading about a third of the book. Goes to show that someone who works in a bookstore may like books but is not always able to write a good one.
Feb 16, 2015 Layne rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Another well-done but ultimately cold satire about rich white people problems. The usual suburban drama is saved by a bizarre thread involving a missing pet rabbit.
Kunni Biener
Sep 06, 2015 Kunni Biener rated it did not like it
not even a one and done, didn't finish. Not sure what the point was. I had enjoyed her other books, not great, but okay, this one wasn't worth picking up.
Aug 13, 2014 Kathleen rated it liked it
Amusing, satirical, and inventive (the lost pet rabbit is one of the characters/narrators) but it ends rather suddenly and I'm not sure that the house's mystery was fully explained.
Sep 01, 2014 Karen rated it it was ok
One of the two narrators is omniscient due to his psychotropic meds - ludicrous (not in a good way).
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Book Keeping: The Stager by Susan Coll 1 15 Jun 25, 2014 12:33PM  
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Susan Coll is the author of the The Stager and the novels Beach Week, Acceptance, Rockville Pike, and A television adaptation of Acceptance, starring Joan Cusack, aired in 2009. Coll is the Events & Programs Director at Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington, DC.
More about Susan Coll...

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