Goldberg Variations

A Novel

Goldberg Variations

Imagine King Lear as a comedy . . .

Elegant, amusing, and profoundly nasty tycoon Gloria Garrison, née Goldberg, has a kingdom to bequeath to one of the grandchildren she barely knows. They’re all twentysomethings who foolishly believe money isn’t everything. Just shy of eighty, Gloria doesn’t wish to watch the minutes tick by while the three dither over the issues of their generation—love, meaning, identity. She has summoned them all from New York for a weekend at her palatial home in Santa Fe. She has a single question to ask them: “Which one of you most deserves to inherit my business?” Gloria never anticipates the answer will be “not interested” times three. She created a brilliant, booming beauty business, Glory, Inc., that not only does well, but does good. And they say “no”? What’s so grand about their lives that they would reject such a kingdom?

Daisy Goldberg is not only mad for movies, she’s part of the film industry: East Coast story editor for one of the biggest studios. Her brother, Matt, the über–sports buff, has a great job in public relations with Major League Baseball. And their cousin Raquel Goldberg, half-Latina, all Catholic, is a Legal Aid lawyer. They may like their work, but do they really like their lives? Would they be so foolish as to hold against their grandmother the pain she inflicted on every member of the family? As far as Gloria is concerned, this isn’t about tender feelings. It’s about millions of dollars; it’s about living a life the ninety-nine percent dream of and the one percent know.

The weekend is full of surprises, not only for Daisy, Matt, and Raquel but also for Gloria. Memories have a way of intruding at the most inopportune times. And is Gloria’s tough hide as impenetrable as she has always believed? Susan Isaacs is at her formidable best in Goldberg Variations, a novel that is both wickedly witty and a deeply moving tale of family and reconciliation.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442359307 | 
  • October 2012
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Goldberg Variations includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Gloria Garrison is seventy-nine years old. She’s long ago reinvented herself, changing her name from Goldberg, ditching her husband in New York, and starting a beauty company in Santa Fe. Glory, Inc., a huge success, provides makeovers—hair, clothes, and makeup—out of the back of eighteen-wheelers across the South and West. Gloria is preparing to retire, but because of her outrageous emotional insensitivity and hurtful offhand comments, her younger partner has pulled out of the business; he never wants to speak to her again. So she sends plane tickets to her three grandchildren back in New York – Matt, Daisy, and Raquel – who haven’t seen her since they were kids. As soon as they arrive, she offers them a once in a lifetime opportunity: one (and only one!) of them will become the heir to Glory, Inc.’s multimillion dollar beauty empire; whoever can wow her in a weekend will inherit. Wiser and more principled than their grandmother, all three twenty-somethings refuse Gloria’s proposal. But the remainder of the weekend see more

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About the Author

Susan Isaacs
© Deborah Feingold

Susan Isaacs

Susan Isaacs is the author of thirteen novels, including As Husbands Go, Any Place I Hang My Hat, Long Time No See, and Compromising Positions. She is a former editor of Seventeen and a freelance political speechwriter. She lives on Long Island with her husband. All of her novels have been New York Times bestsellers.