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A Desert of Pure Feeling Paperback – May 27, 1997

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Novelist Lucy Patterson, the 45-year-old narrator, tells us that once she wanted to write a huge historical narrative but that "the harder I tried to focus on my grand themes... the more personal were the events, the smaller the ideas, that overtook my imagination." It's an apt description of Freeman's effort here. The novel moves between the present, in which Lucy tells her story from the Las Vegas motel to which she has retreated in the wake of a traumatic disaster, and Lucy's past, mostly as it concerns Dr. Carlos Cabrera, a Guatemalan doctor who saved the life of Lucy's young son and with whom Lucy had a formative affair. When Carlos shows up, after all these years, aboard a cruise ship on which Lucy is traveling, they rekindle their affair. The disaster strikes after another passenger forces from Carlos a revelation about his youth in Nazi Germany. This in turn forces from Freeman some awkward and dramatically flat exposition about the tricky nature of moral judgment. Back in Vegas, Lucy is drawn closer?emotionally and erotically?to Joycelle, a vulnerable hooker and stripper. Freeman (Set for Life; Chinchilla Farm) would have done better to confine herself to a deeper juxtaposition of Lucy's two loves?the refined, sophisticated older Carlos and the vulgar, semiliterate younger Joycelle. Lucy's story is a moving, deliberate meditation on love that is at its best when simply mapping the interior lives of its characters. It falters when Freeman throws in Nazis, Mormons and Guatemalan terrorism, elements that provide a false, often melodramatic sense of scope to what is, in the end, a very intimate novel.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When Lucy Patterson, a middle-aged, long-divorced fiction writer, was invited to fill in as writer-in-residence on a luxury cruise to Europe, she never expected to meet up with her former lover, Dr. Carlos Cabrera. Carlos was the surgeon who, many years earlier, had operated on the malformed heart of Lucy's young son and saved his life. Their affair led her to end her marriage and enter a new path in life. Now Lucy is trying to put things in perspective by writing about their encounter while holed up in a seedy Las Vegas motel, where she has befriended a surly young AIDS-infected prostitute in the neighboring room. Jumping between various time frames, the novel lurches somewhat breathlessly through revelations of the dark secrets of the past to a mildly happy, unexpected ending. A good addition to most libraries from the author of The Chinchilla Farm (LJ 6/15/89).?Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679752714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679752714
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,286,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
In A Desert of Pure Feeling, Judith Freeman's character, Lucy, explores the worlds of being a mother, lover, and companion in the west. Freeman delves into the mind of Lucy, a now middle-aged woman, who has played all these roles and is striving to move on with her life while struggling to make sense of a tragic past. Freeman intermingles the past with the present, allowing the reader to fully understand what makes Lucy the woman she is. As a mother Lucy Patterson struggles with a sick infant son with a heart defect. After her son's death in Guatemala (he is a Mormon missionary who disappears after the bombing of the home of the missionaries) she is plagued by the past of being an unstable mother since giving birth to him at the young age of 19. She battles with the regret of being a self centered mother unable to focus time on her son. It was not until after he was gone that she realized how badly he needed it. Lucy's voyage through her past love life begins when she leaves her home on an Idaho ranch as a fiction writer to be the guest writer on an all expense paid trip on the Oceanus, an ocean liner aimed for shores of England. The Oceanus is the beginning of Lucy's trek back in time with the reunion of her love, Dr. Carlos Cabrera. Carlos is a well known surgeon who operated on Lucy's two-year-old son years earlier. Soon after the operation the two become lovers despite the gab in age. Their love for each other is strong, but their dedication to their separate families proves to be stronger. The lovers quickly lose contact with each other, but will never escape each other's thoughts. Their reunion aboard the Oceanus gives them a new start together.Read more ›
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By A Customer on November 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Judith Freeman's "A Desert of Pure Feeling" is a contemporary love story that portrays a western woman with depth and dimension in her most intimate roles--as a daughter, wife, mother, friend, and lover. This compelling novel looks at the ways one extraordinary woman faces the task of gathering the evidence of the past into a meaningful awareness of the present. With honesty and courage, this woman searches her relationships and comes to know the secrets of her own heart. This is a western story, with a ranch in Idaho, the desert spaces of Utah, and the lure of Las Vegas. But the geography is not limited to the west. The sotry's primary setting is Las Vegas, in a motel called the Tally Ho, where Lucy, the main character and a writer, is speaking at a conference. Las Vegas was a familiar place to Lucy not only throughout her childhood vacations traveling through this city but because it was originally settled by her people and is symbolic to her of her Mormon upbringing. Lucy has traveled to Las Vegas from her home on an isolated ranch in the mountains of Idaho. At this conference she agrees to travel across the Atlantic on a ship in exchange for giving a reading during the voyage. "What I could not have known was how this decision would lead me back along the path of my own life, how it would open up old wounds and lay them bare and create new ones I hadn't expected" (13). On board she is shocked when she encounters Dr. Carlos Cabrera, the surgeon who many years ago had saved her son's life, the man to whom she had given her heart, and with whom she had hoped to share her life.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Morgan Braucht ENG 272 April 7, 1998 "A Desert of Pure Feeling: The Story of People's pasts" With her book, A Desert of Pure Feeling, Judith Freeman invites us to read a story of people who are running away from the past. One thing that you are forced to think about while reading this book is that to people who don't know their pasts these appear to be average, everyday human beings like you and me. It's not until you hear their stories that you can differentiate their lifestyles from that of the average person. Personally, I didn't agree with some of the issues that Freeman dealt with (i.e. adultery, homosexuality, etc.), but it does help the reader realize that every person in the world has their own story to tell and their own way of telling it. Las Vegas, "in the heart of the Mojave", as the author puts it, is the central setting for most of the story. Lucy, the person telling the story, is drawn to Las Vegas because of beautiful childhood memories and the fact that Las Vegas was settled by "her people". Another setting is a cruise boat where Lucy is doing a literary reading of one of her works. Here she is re-introduced to Dr. Carlos Cabrera who saved the life of her son and whom she had an affair with. This take us to Minnesota where we revisit Justin, Lucy's son, and his fight for life and the introduction of Dr. Cabrera into Lucy's life. Like the classic Westerns depicted by John Wayne or Louis L'Amour, A Desert of Pure Feeling contains many themes parallel to that of the frontier. Religion is a major part of Western America and it fills a role in this story as well. Although her father used to be the bishop of the local church, Lucy had "stopped believing in religion years ago".Read more ›
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