Purchase On:

Marie Brown’s second love is the philosophy of science, and in particular quantum mechanics, and though she gave up graduate school fifteen years ago, she still harbors dreams of finishing her degree. Tall, 39, and deaf in one ear, any chance she gets she heads to the Science, Industry, and Business Library on 34th Street to study randomness and its relationship to reality. But she is often distracted from her purpose by Marco Trentadue, a self-proclaimed “freelance intellectual.” He appears to live in the library – he wears a blue suit with an uncanny resemblance to pajamas – and his strange ideas both attract and repel her. Marie’s first love, however, is classic Hollywood film. She grew up watching old movies on late night TV. So when her job as a tabloid journalist allows her the opportunity to investigate into the life of noir diva Nora Mars, who is on the brink of death, Marie jumps at it. An interview with Nora Mars’ third husband, Rex Mars, launches Marie on an odyssey that has her ricocheting between Hollywood size scandals, quark to multiple universe size ideas, and an unfathomable third love.


A New York Times Notable Book

A Book Sense Pick

“A greatly intelligent work, entertaining, sometimes satirical, original, and inventive. Jenny McPhee is an unusually confident first novelist.”
– Muriel Spark

“In this smart, fast-paced metaphysical thriller, Jenny McPhee brings the insights of quantum mechanics to bear upon love stardom, and the baffling uncertainties of human behavior. The Center of Things is a brilliant debut by a writer of exceptional talent and promise.”
– Amitav Ghosh

“An engaging novel about big ideas in physics and big scandals in show business.”
– The New York Times Book Review

“A jolly read–McPhee’s characters are wonderfully weird…Romance mingles with mind-swelling musings on superclusters and string theory. The end equation is an elegant inquiry into the randomness of love and the glory of fate.”
– Entertainment Weekly

“A smart novel of love, lust, and life’s miraculous randomness.”
– O, The Oprah Magazine

“It takes guts for a debut novelist to mix such disparate subjects as abstruse science, philosophy, movies, and the single life in  New York City, but McPhee takes the risk with brio and acquits herself  with elan…McPhee’s style is lean and frisky, and her novel is teasing, funny, and intriguing…One starts to read with a smile, appreciating the skill with which McPhee creates a      satisfying romantic glow…The novel’s offbeat charm will distinguish Jenny McPhee as an accomplished writer with her own distinctive style.”
– Publishers Weekly

“With Marie, McPhee has created a warm and likable character, a protagonist whose flaws we grow protective of, a woman whose many mysteries intrigue.”
– Book Magazine

“Original, richly comic, and very clever.
– The Trenton Times

“McPhee is a talented, graceful, and often sardonic writer…[this book is] for all fiction collections with intelligent readers.”
– Library Journal

“This dense, witty debut novel, a kind of mystery, steers its self-doubting heroine between the demands of lust and intellectual fulfillment.”
– Daily News