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The Book of Phoebe Paperback – April 19, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (April 19, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0595089518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0595089512
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,200,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA Gifted, spirited Phoebe, a Yale senior at 19, takes a semester off to have her baby in Paris and to find someone to adopt it. There she falls in love and has an affair with Ben, a wealthy artist. She explains to him that one of the reasons that she chose not to have an abortion stems from her former acquaintance with Tyrus, a mentally handicapped man to whom she tried to introduce the world after years of isolation. Tyrus' story is told by Phoebe in the journal which she shows to Ben, and it is the core of this book. The journal is part truth, part exaggeration and part outright invention. Comical stereotypes interact with the fully rounded portrayals of Phoebe and Tyrus. Even events in Phoebe's "real" life are sometimes hard to believe. There is a fairy-tale element in that powerful, wealthy people keep helping Phoebe: her famous friend Marlys, independently wealthy Ben, a fictional French politician and his wife. Smith manages to blend the tragic, the hilarious, the sweet and the incongruous into an entertaining story with an upbeat conclusion. YAs will appreciate Phoebe's rebellious, self-reliant character and her lively narrative. Monica Forbes, PGCMLS, Md.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, like her heroine Phoebe, escaped abroad after college, but instead of going to Paris, she joined the Peace Corps and worked in Cameroon for two years. Today she lives with her husband and two children in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Customer Reviews

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Book of Phoebe is one of those books that you h ate to see end. Phoebe Desmond is a heroine who is both irreverent and spiritual in the best sense of both words. When Phoebe finds she's pregnant as the result of her first love affair, she takes off for Paris determined to have her baby without having to tell the baby's father that he is a father. In Phoebe's opinion he doesn't deserve to know. While she thinks of Paris as an escape, it turns out to be more of a learning experience than Yale ever was , teaching her more about herself than she sometimes wanted to know. She's funny, gutsy, courageous and all those good things you want the people you read about to be. This is a story that begins with a girl coming to grips with some major events in her life, events, which might have traumatized someone else. What they did for Phoebe was turn her from a girl I liked very much, into a woman I liked even more. The writing is first rate, the laughs and the tears nicely interspersed. It's the kind of book that makes you feel a lot better for having read it.
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By Sarah on May 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Phoebe is 19 and pregnant. Determined to give birth without anyone finding out, but also to finish Yale no later than 6 months off schedule - she runs away to Paris to stay with her friend Marlys (the new Josephine Baker) and find parents for her child. Hilarity, dancing Greeks, romantic wealthy artists, magic, and tragedy ensue.

This is the backdrop against which Phoebe tells the story of Tyrus. Tyrus is 39, can't tie his shoes, and lives in his mother's attic. 13 year old Phoebe is determined to get him the best of care. I can't give away too much - but the story of Tyrus involves Grant's Tomb, Sargent Shriver, and 2,752 pennies.

As the stories of Phoebe in Paris and Tyrus at Grant's Tomb unfold, the reader will find a rich, engaging, and imminently readable story within a story. This book is endearing, nicely woven, and throws in plenty of dry wit and smart-aleckyness to keep things interesting.

Crazy far-out things happen to Phoebe. But all of the craziness, rich and famous friends, and her self-described gifted status can't protect her from life, pain, and the difficulties of growing up. But they can help her, and us, understand, accept, and even appreciate the bumps along the way.

Readers of Fannie Flagg and Gail Parent will recognize a kindred spirit in the characters of The Book of Phoebe.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Goodbye, tongue-tied! hello saucy! I just memorized all the great lines from this way too much fun book, and now I can mow them down at parties when the talk turns snappy. I only wish Phoebe had come into my life sooner! I can't wait for the author's next book!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
A perfect coming-of-age novel: Huck, Holden--move over. I couldn't put it down but I kept going back and reading passages again. This author knows me, has found me, is me. New York, Paris, British invasion beaches--I was there in all those places. And I laughed til I cried.
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More About the Author

NEWS FLASH: Happy to report that my 4th novel, the long out-of-print, MASTERS OF ILLUSION: A Novel of the Great Hartford Circus Fire, has been air-lifted from obscurity and optioned for a film by Amazon Studios. If you caught the Golden Globes, you saw this band of brothers and sisters win for the most wonderful "Transparency." I do believe the world is ready for a new circus movie.

MASTERS OF ILLUSION will be back in print soon--will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, this is a biography so here goes: I was born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut and have lived in Connecticut all my life except for the two years I served as a Peace Corps volunteer on Mt. Cameroon, an active volcano rising nearly 13,400 feet above the equatorial sea. I have a most lovely family and a labradoodle named Salty.

My grandparents on my father's side immigrated from the north of Italy, and on my mother's, Quebec. My fondest childhood memories are of sweltering summers blue-crabbing with my French-speaking grandfather from 5 A.M. until 5 p.m., my grandfather wearing a worn three-piece suit and cap, and me, my underpants. When I told my Italian grandfather that I would be going to Cameroon as a Peace Corps volunteer he told me there were very good grapes in Africa.

My brother was autistic, a savant, who would not allow singing, laughing, sneezing, electronic sound (including television, radio and anything that produced music), and the flushing of the toilet except when he was asleep and he never seemed to be asleep. He had a library of over two thousand books all on WWII. As his adjutant, I attained a vast pool of knowledge on such things as identifying fighter bombers from their silhouettes and why we dropped the atomic bomb: "To win the war," Tyler told me. Then: "It didn't work so we dropped another one. Victory at last." Once he tried to kill my cat by dropping his latest acquisition, Jane's All the World Aircraft on its head. I rescued the cat in the nick of time as Tyler shouted, "Prepare to drop depth charges, men!" As an autistic person, his senses were fine-tuned to a state none of the rest of us could possibly understand: bright colors (especially red), odors (especially perfume) and noise (particularly a cat meowing), sent him into paroxysms of agony.

The relationship with my brother was one of three influences on my writing; the second, my father's bedtime stories consisting of poetry and prose. Right after the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary," he would recite: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look upon my works ye mighty and despair!" The third influence was the shelf of classic children's literature my mother kept stocked with such gems as The Swiss Family Robinson, Bambi, Tom the Water-Boy, Silver Pennies, King Arthur and the Round Table, The Child's Odyssey. Somehow, The Bedside Esquire (1936) found its way to the shelf and before I was eight years old, I'd read the extraordinary short fiction within including Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," Paul Gallico's "Keeping Cool in Conneaut," Salinger's "For Esmé with Love and Squalor," Ben Hecht's "Snowfall in Childhood," and my favorite, "Latins Make Lousy Lovers," by Anonymous. In the collection was an excerpt from the novel, Christ in Concrete by Pietro Di Donato which so bowled me over that I decided then and there that I would be a writer, too, just like all the writers who wrote fiction for Esquire Magazine in 1936.

Instead of studying at college, I read and wrote. I graduated with a 2.01 grade point average not knowing I'd fulfilled my academic requirements until graduation week when my dean called and asked why I hadn't picked up my cap and gown. When I told him my grade point had fallen under 2.0 he told me it was a good thing I hadn't majored in math or it certainly would have. Together we recalculated and I finally believed him when he told me it wasn't 1.89 as I'd thought. To this day, I can't remember my multiplication tables six through twelve, and even though my fourth grade teacher wrote in my report card, Mary-Ann will not be able to function in life if she does not learn her six through twelve tables, I have. Also, I have come to learn that there is a dysfunction called something like dyscalcula, the math equivalent of dyslexia, which I obviously have since if you say to me, "What's 6 times 7?" my palms will start to sweat, my knees get wobbly and I start having a heart attack. This recent revelation of my learning disability has allowed me to stop fantasizing about studying math all over again starting with Algebra I, which I managed to pass with a D though I failed Algebra II, since I'm discalulic.

After Peace Corps service, I taught, worked as a librarian and got my first freelance writing job with Reader's Digest. The Digest editor assigned me sports and games for How to Do Just about Anything, a book which sold 50 million copies world-wide. Reader's Digest made a vast fortune on that book alone, while me and the other writers earned $25 to $75 dollars per article. I learned economy of language writing such pieces as "How to Play Tennis" in fifty words. My first writing collaboration with my son began with this book: I described how to play "Hangman" and the Digest used his piece of paper with a name I couldn't get--yacht-- and so I was hung. This made me feel guilty since the games I played his older sister didn't make the Digest cut, so unfair since she taught her brother how to read when he was three.

I have published nine novels: THE BOOK OF PHOEBE, LAMENT FOR A SILVER-EYED WOMAN, THE PORT OF MISSING MEN, MASTERS OF ILLUSION, AN AMERICAN KILLING, the Poppy Rice Mysteries--LOVE HER MADLY*, SHE'S NOT THERE*, and SHE SMILED SWEETLY--and THE HONOURED GUEST*. My memoir, GIRLS OF TENDER AGE*, is a favorite of book clubs. (The paperback edition has a great book club guide.) In addition, I collaborated on a novel with my son, Jere Smith, DIRTY WATER: A Red Sox Mystery, which centers on the 2007 World Champions.
*available in e-book editions.

In 2010, I was awarded the Diana Bennett Fellowship at the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. When I wasn't at MGM Grand being disappeared by David Copperfield, I spent that academic year writing the first draft of The Honoured Guest, a story of the commencement of the American Civil War.

My books have been reprinted in seven foreign languages.

I have also had short fiction and essays included in several collections.

I have taught fiction writing at Fairfield University and has participated in writing seminars throughout the country. In March 2001, I was guest teacher-writer at the University of Ireland and on the Aran Islands; and writer-in-residence at Suomi College in Michigan.

Come spring, I will be teaching memoir writing at the Mark Twain House in Hartford.

And finally, I am now working on a new memoir: My Décolletage Has a Scar.

So Happy Reading. And remember: "It's not what you read, or how you read, but that you read."--me

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