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Published:January 18th, 2011 17:59 EST
First Comes Work, Then Comes Marriage

First Comes Work, Then Comes Marriage

By Ernest Dempsey


They`ve founded international companies. They`ve brokered million-dollar deals. They`ve started famous law firms, they`ve forged successful mergers, and through it all, they`ve been rewarded with six " or seven " figure paychecks.


But the one challenge they haven`t met? Finding a love, both mature and passionate.


The successful-but-lonely workaholic is at the heart of Ward R. Jones` novel, After Isaactown (November 2010, CreateSpace). Written by a corporate lawyer turned novelist, the book`s protagonist embodies a distinctly American archetype.


"Having been an attorney for 30 years, I knew the kind of pressures my protagonist faced," says Jones. Many men in this field have worked with a single-minded passion for so long, that they simply don`t have time to consider a relationship. Then all of a sudden, they wake up one day and realize: `My God. I don`t have anyone.`"


Norm Arnstein is a razor-sharp lawyer, who after decades of work has risen to executive vice president. He`s never married, never had many romantic loves at all " except for one. His sister-in-law Bev, graceful and refined, is married to Norm`s small-town mayor brother in Isaactown, Pennsylvania. For years, Bev and Norm have been close, as close as two devoted, unmarried people can be.


When Norm sees Bev walking alone in Manhattan one afternoon, he follows her to Lincoln Center. After taking a seat behind her at a child`s ballet, he realizes it`s not Bev at all, but a different woman: A stranger, 15 years his junior. And this woman will affect the course of his life forever.


For Norm, I thought about a person who grows accustomed to longing for something he doesn`t have, something more precious than his possessions, and simply lives a life of loneliness from one year to the next, " says Jones. Until some seemingly small thing happens, that changes his reality forever. "


The woman Norm meets, Harriet, is a Shakespearean scholar and a single mom. After that fateful meeting, their busy lives march forward " but their attraction grows with a quiet strength. Norm and Harriet`s ensuing, often interrupted courtship is at the heart of After Isaactown, inspiring the novel`s central question: When you`ve been married to work your whole life, how do you make room for the arrival of love?


WARD R. JONES is a novelist and short story writer based in Houston, Texas. Prior to his literary career, he spent close to 30 years as an attorney, in both private and corporate practice.  His stories have been published in Audience, a literary journal, and in the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. For more information, please visit


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