“Kathleen George beautifully captures a vulnerable, memorable character and the significant women who have shaped him.”
—Author Jane McCafferty


Now available

Mirth chronicles the struggles of a writer, Harrison Mirth, a romantic man who writes about love and tries to find it through three marriages, in three cities, and always with renewable hope. Amanda is first—New York city and youth. Maggie is second and spans the middle age years—Upstate New York. Liz is third—Pittsburgh and the senior years. Harrison Mirth doesn’t say much to Liz about life before her—a thoughtful comment here and there, funny stories, very little casting of blame. But like a quilt maker, Liz puts these scraps together to make a story—how she thinks he was as a boy, then a man sheltering a secret lake of sadness, but somehow always upbeat, cheerful, a willful optimist, forever innocent. To her, that is irresistible.


“In her new novel, Mirth, Kathleen George departs from thrillers and historical fiction to craft an unforgettable portrait of a seemingly ordinary man whose journey through the world is animated by optimism and purpose. Readers will find it difficult to put down this extraordinary story.

The novels of John Cheever and John Updike make appearances in Mirth. That sets a postwar mood since Harrison’s story takes off in the mid-fifties, a heady time to land in New York City with the dream of becoming a published author. There is something distinctive about the fiction of those years, of men and women longing for love, confronting new social norms and wrestling with the past. Kathleen George has captured it beautifully, leaving us only wanting to read more.”
—Booktrib (Read full review)

Mirth is a gorgeous and deeply moving novel about the tensions between the life and art of a writer.”
—Hilma Wolitzer, author of An Available Man and Summer Reading

“A life story, a love story, a rich roman a clef—Mirth is all these and more. Imagine if John Williams’ Stoner was about the joys of a life well-lived. Kathleen George has fashioned a tender, knowing portrait of a true American romantic.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself

Mirth is that rare thing: a truly absorbing novel that portrays, in all its complexity, a life lived over time. In beautiful, fluent prose Kathleen George follows Harrison Mirth through three marriages and the many vicissitudes of a writer’s life. The result is a dazzling portrait of a man who lives up to his name, and of those who love him. A wonderful novel.”
—Margot Livesey, author of The Boy in The Field

“…a beautifully written book. After a childhood of neglect and loneliness, Mirth becomes wildly embracing of all things life-giving: a celebrator of art, and literature, great food, and travel, music and most of all, love. Kathleen George beautifully captures a vulnerable, memorable character and the significant women who have shaped him. This writer has her wise and subtle eye on the contradictions of the heart and extends a spirit of forgiveness to all. She offers up Mirth like a talisman to remind readers of the role love and death-defying pleasure play in an all-too-brief life.”
—Jane McCafferty, Drue Heinz Prize winner, author of At First You Try Everything

“Kathleen George’s character Liz is a third wife who cobbles together her husband’s story via other women—beginning to end; he enchants (sooner or later) and is enchanted by women he loves, who love him. George’s treatments of relationships and marriages, the rising and the falling, have the glorious and sad ring of truth to them, how it starts, how it goes at a leisurely pace along its way, and how it closes, the strain. Liz’s part of the story has a kind, good heart, so sweet at the outset, just how falling in love is, both tentative and sudden, inevitable. Any man would be honored to be remembered in this way.”
—Paul Kameen, poet, author of Writing/Teaching

“You cannot fail to fall in love with Harrison Mirth. Go ahead. I dare you. In Mirth, George has created a character who follows his passions, for better and worse, whose stark and unyielding appreciation for beauty and zest for life permeates every page. A true meditation on how to live and how to love. Mirth is a wise and wonderful novel, both an exploration of the undulating freedoms and constraints of love and marriage, and a reminiscence of a life well-lived. Mirth will delight you as you read and stay with you long after.”
—Meredith Mileti, author of Aftertaste