Nancy Springer has written a poignant, funny, achingly beautiful novel of a woman's reawakening, startlingly original and suffused with magic-a timely fable wit gorgeous multicolored feathers that soars proud and high.When she was young, he had meant it kindly. Back when they were first married. Later, as she got older and gravity took hold, he had said it far less kindly. She was turning into a bird, he said disgustedly. Like her mother. That was why he had left her.If Sassy Hummel were indeed as "sassy" as her name, perhaps she would have been better prepared to cope with the abrupt downward turn her life had taken. Dumped for a younger, skinnier trophy wife by husband Frederick after twenty-seven years of devoted marital servitude, she has been forced to accept the only job marriage prepared her for: that of a menial in the gloriously upscale Sylvan Tower Hotel. Though generally exhausting and demeaning, working as a maid has a few small advantages-most important, her newfound friendship with Racquel, the outspoken, no-nonsense proprietor of PLUMAGE, the hotel's pricey, feathertherned boutique. Other than that, though, there is little joy to be found in endless carpet vacuuming and the cleaning of countless toilets.But then a tiny bird inexplicably appears in the opulent six-tiered Sylvan Tower lobby. And once it sets its sights on Sassy, unusual things begin to happen. Suddenly the image her mirror reflects back is not one of a dumpy, middle-aged woman with low self-esteem. Instead, a stunning cobalt-blue parakeet returns her stare. What's more, the reflections of the staff and patrons she sees in the hotel's gleaming glass walls are not people at all, but birds of every size, sort, and demeanor: preening and puffed up, scraggly and gray, flighty and predatory.Something remarkable has happened to hitherto unremarkable Sassy Hummel, enabling her to see beyond the fine-feathered facades people hide behind to the true nature of the bird underneath. And now that Sassy Hummel has lost her own reflection, she has little choice but to follow her mysterious new avian compatriot into the unknown world that lies beyond the mirror's surface. For only there can she hope to recover her soul ... and discover her wings.Wise and compelling, witty and warm, inspiring and magical, Plumage is an exhilarating new high in the already much-lauded literary career of the exceptional Nancy Springer. To read it is to fly.