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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
I know this book was published some time ago, but it's new to me and if you can't find it in print, go to your public library! The characters and situations are so real, so engaging. I like that they are people who fight their own shortcomings, that they're flawed and imperfect and that their lives are full and messy and complicated. Things turn on small events like the flu or bad weather, just like in real life. I really enjoyed this and am now going to read Ms. Gutcheon's other books.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Beth Gutcheon has written a contemproary masterpiece about life and love in the 90's. I have read this book so many times I have lost count and cannot believe it is currently out-of-print - I want to send this book to every woman friend I have. Her characters are so believable and her use of dialogue - within every age group - is true to life. By far her best and most honest work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Wow. That's all I have to say. DOMESTIC PLEASURES is one of the best books I've read this year. I'm ashamed to say it's my first by Gutcheon, but it won't be the last. I've just now ordered all the rest of her books and am looking forward to many hours of reading pleasure, although how she can top PLEASURES, I don't know. As an author myself, I know how difficult it is to handle as many story lines, characters, and relationships as Gutcheon gave us in this book. Not to mention writing from the point of view of such different ages. And Gutcheon has done both so beautifully. From page one, I was hooked by the characters and their lives. Martha and Charlie, Sophie and Connie, Phoebe and Jack, baby Fred and Gillis, Patsy and Molly and Ruth and William and Dave. I don't think I'll ever forget them. I was so caught up in their lives, I didn't want the book to end. Gutcheon is a marvelous writer. Not only did she make me cry a few times, she made me laugh over and over again. Her dialogue is so good, I wanted to smack her! <g> Okay, that's because I am jealous. I'd love to be able to write dialogue that clever and witty and real. Bravo, Ms. Gutcheon. I am in awe of your talent.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read this book for two reasons, first it was favorably mentioned on someone's listmania list and two because it had a high star rating. Of course, it wasn't until after I finished the book that I realized that the star rating was based on only 8 reviews.
I found this book to be a fine read. Something you bring to the beach. Usually I bring to the beach either
a. a good who-done-it / lawyer type book (think Grisham, Patterson, or Scottline) or
b. something I would deem a chick book. A novel with interesting characters and a decently amusing plot where the main character is usually a woman I can relate to and a potential romance will most definitely be covered somewhere in the story.
This book falls under category b., the characters are easy to like and are interesting enough that you want to know what happens to them next, and there is a romance, but the overall plot I found to be somewhat boring making me wonder, "why I am still reading this". If you do read this book, it won't be a complete waste of time. You will like it enough, but there are just a lot of better choices out there for the beach.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 1998
Format: Paperback
Love between parent and child, sisters, friends, ex-spouses, and new lovers... a web of feelings and yearnings that touched my soul. This story of the web of people surrounding one deceased, divorced dad interconnects and builds, revealing nuances of love and life in the 90's.
The use of language was wonderful! "The children fell about laughing."
I finished in a rush to find out how it would end, then turned to page one and read the whole book again!
My favorite quote: "There are a few people who are really made for each other and a lot of people who just really don't want to be alone."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of Gutcheon's best. Phoebe and Dime are two of my all-time favorite characters. Their relationship, as it grows -- and grows apart -- is deftly and believably handled, as is the relationship between her dad and his mom. Both adults and kids are three-dimensional, complex characters, and I hated to say goodbye to them at the end of the book. Hey, Ms. Gutcheon... how about a sequel?
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Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
When Raymond Gaver's plane crashes enroute from LA to NY, Charlie Leveque, his attorney, is the one to tell Raymond's ex-wife Martha. Martha, who remembers hating Charlie for his role in turning her world upside down in the divorce from Raymond.

And now she discovers that he is the executor of the estate and the one to whom she must address financial requests for her son Jack.

Sorting through the detritus of a life abruptly ended brings these characters in close proximity with one another, and then, almost by accident, Charlie and Martha become friends. She begins to understand that he is not to blame for how Raymond tore her life apart, and, in fact, he has gone through his own divorce and is left trying to figure out how to raise his teenage daughter Phoebe. They realize they have more in common than they thought.

As their relationship begins to change and they become close, they discover that, as it turns out, their children are tight friends, who may be more than friends. Instead of making life easier, this complicates things.

The journey of these characters in forging their new lives, separately, and later together, is beautifully wrought, set against the backdrop of Manhattan life with all of its complexities.

Gutcheon has a unique talent for showing us what life looks like in Manhattan in the 1990s, and especially how to navigate life after divorce in these times. She is brilliant at dialogue, showing us the delightfully awkward movements of adults discovering new love, just as she also takes us right into the world of teenagers, with all their funky behaviors and appearances. We begin to see each of the characters; we hear what they hear and chuckle at their flaws, foibles, and missteps. Here is an excerpt that spotlights some of the issues for Martha and Charlie:

"Martha looked doubtful. She was so tired she could hardly remember why it was she couldn't just fall into his arms and go to sleep. Why couldn't they just tell the children to behave themselves? Think of the pleasure of cooking breakfast together for all three children, of going to bed together two nights in a row, of going to the supermarket together and deciding together what to cook, of taking a walk together without having to arrange baby-sitters or take three subways to get to each other to do it. Think of sitting together in lamplight after dinner, reading and looking forward to going upstairs to bed together, instead of looking forward to going out in the rain, getting in a cab, and going sixty blocks to sleep alone."

We meet other characters along the way, like Sophie, Charlie's ex-girlfriend, and her sister Connie, whose marriage is falling apart. These characters intersect with the others, almost randomly, but their appearances somehow shape and redefine the lives of our major players.

But what obstacles will appear to seemingly derail their lives? How do the complexities of sharing their domestic lives somehow prevent or complicate those ordinary moments? And how, finally, will each of them sort it all out so that the domestic pleasures can be accessible to them?

I loved Domestic Pleasures : A Novel and thoroughly enjoyed savoring the lives of such colorful and real characters that made me root for them, and long for their victories, even as they struggled. There were humorous and sad moments, just as there are in real life, in this memorable tale that I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys touching, piercing stories of love lost, found, and embraced once again. Five stars.
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Format: Paperback
A man dies in a plane crash never knowing how his death will cause big changes to the world he leaves behind. Raymond Gaver's plane goes down in the Santa Cruz mountains and his attorney, Charles Leveque, must deliver the news of Raymond's passing to various friends, business associates and most importantly to Raymond's ex-wife and son, Martha Gaver and Jack.

However, Martha is no fan of Charles since he was also Raymond's divorce attorney and Martha was treated very badly during the divorce proceedings by her ex and the attorney, Charles. In this new world, with Raymond gone, Charles is the administrator for the trust set up for Martha and Raymond's son, Jack. Martha must go to Charles for anything that she needs for Jack; an unpleasant task for her.

Martha and Charles develop a relationship after several meetings and their relationship sets off a series of stories of secondary characters that are a part of both of their lives. The author interweaves the other stories brilliantly into the relationship that surrounds Martha and Charlie. I found this book reminiscent of Maeve Binchy novels.

The challenges of relationships and the hope that can come in the aftermath of loss are wonderfully portrayed in Domestic Pleasures : A Novel.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is the first of Beth Gutcheon's books that I've read. I was inspired to pick it up by all the positive reviews of it here, (another first for me) and I was so pleased! I'm not the only one either, the hardcover edition I read has glowing reviews from Pat Conroy, Rosamunde Pilcher, and Rita Mae Brown on the back cover. This is quality writing. The characterization, dialogue, the various complex story lines are all very well done. I look forward to reading more by this author (and maybe I should take more suggestions from amazon reviewers!)
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on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bought this book to take on spring break vacation and pass the time between outings. It did the trick.

The book was engaging and full of drama. I found some of the story lines a little unbelievable but that didn't stop me from liking or hating a few of the characters.

It was a good vacay book for lite and airy reading. An easy read.
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