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A Fine and Private Place Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 1999

37 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter S. Beagle, a World Fantasy Award nominee, is the bestselling author of the fantasy classic The Last Unicorn as well as many other highly acclaimed works. His novels and stories have been translated into sixteen languages worldwide, and his long and fascinating career has covered everything from journalism and stage adaptations to songwriting and performances. He has given readings, lectures, and concerts of his own songs from coast to coast, and has written several screenplays, including Ralph Bakshi's film version of The Lord of the Rings.

From AudioFile

Mr. Rebeck lives in a cemetery. A talking raven brings him food. He's afraid to leave. He talks to dead people. Two of these dead people fall in love with each other, while Mr. Rebeck falls in love with a widow. In a book containing a large proportion of dialogue, Peter S. Beagle's best work as a narrator comes through some of his characterizations. Rebeck and his widow, Mrs. Clapper, are as finely performed as they are written. The ghosts and raven, however, fall somewhat flat. Overall, the author's performance comes across as understated and depressing, qualities not at all helpful in dealing with the premise of the book, farfetched in its own right. R.P.L. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Roc Trade (May 5, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451450965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451450968
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,294,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter S. Beagle was born in 1939 and raised in the Bronx, where he grew up surrounded by the arts and education: both his parents were teachers, three of his uncles were world-renowned gallery painters, and his immigrant grandfather was a respected writer, in Hebrew, of Jewish fiction and folktales. As a child Peter used to sit by himself in the stairwell of the apartment building he lived in, staring at the mailboxes across the way and making up stories to entertain himself. Today, thanks to classics like The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place, and "Two Hearts," he is a living icon of fantasy fiction.

In addition to eight novels and over one hundred pieces of short fiction, Peter has written many teleplays and screenplays (including the animated versions of The Lord of the Rings and The Last Unicorn); six nonfiction books (among them the classic travel memoir I See By My Outfit); the libretto for one opera; and more than seventy published poems and songs. He currently makes his home in Oakland, California.

On his birthday in 2013 Peter and Conlan Press launched a screening tour of The Last Unicorn film that has so far put on more than 300 screenings in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Austria, and which will appear in several thousand different theaters around the world by the end of 2016.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Kevin D. Flythe on February 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although undoubtedly most well-known for his novel "The Last Unicorn," Peter S. Beagle's "A Fine and Private Place" has always been a personal favorite of mine. The title is taken from the Andrew Marvell poem, "To His Coy Mistress." The line is as follows: "The grave's a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace." The story Beagle tells in this novel is of two ghosts who in death find a richer love than ever they knew in life, a love which is all the more precious to them because its doom is that it cannot last.
Peter Beagle is simply the most amazing writer ever (IMHO), and so I highly recommend all of his works. This one in particular, though, has always been special to me. The writing is so simple that it's beautiful. And the story of Michael and Laura's love is so touching,... there was a chapter in the book that was so painfully lovely that it actually brought tears to my eyes, one of only two times that I can remember being brought to tears by a book.
I can't recommend it highly enough. It's amazing in so many ways. For one, nearly the entire book takes place in a single graveyard, a place which becomes so real to me that I wish it were indeed real so that I might be buried there myself. The characters are unforgettable as well. Even the talking raven is wonderful, whereas I usually abhor loquacious animals (look for the squirrel and the raven's conversation, it is hands down the most hilarious section of the novel!).
Besides all that, it's a love story, which may be a plus to some of you. For the rest of you out there who hate love stories, I understand, becuase I hate them too. But Beagle's romance totally pulled me in.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on July 20, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What defines life? Where is the line between alive and dead? What makes life worth living? Sound like an outline for a course in philosophy? But these questions are what drives this lyrical, quiet, and unassuming story of two ghosts, a raven, a man caught somewhere in-between the living and the dead, and a very traditional Jewish widow.

The raven has an attitude, but insists on dragging sandwiches to Mr. Rebeck, a pharmacist who decided to live in the cemetery many years ago. Mr. Rebeck is lonely most of the time, except when there is a new burial, for then that person's ghost will stick around a little while and keep him company, until the ghost forgets what it is to be human, to be alive.

Michael Morgan and Laura are two such new ghosts. Each has a conflicted past, not fully remembered, and take different approaches to this new state of 'living', Michael trying fiercely to retain all he can of himself and his past, Laura trying to fully leave the world of the living. Mr. Rebeck suddenly finds himself with an unusually rich set of company, for besides Michael and Laura, he finds himself involved with the widow Mrs. Klapper, coming to visit the tomb of her husband.

Each of these characters is finely delineated, their conversations with each other slowly illuminating their pasts, their ambitions, their fears, and their hopes. From a little evening singing, quiet walks, the raven bringing news of the outside world, the story is built bit by little bit, with no large dramatic moments until the very end. It is, in essence, a character study, and each character's approach to life imposes its message about life's meaning and purpose.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "grograman" on March 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Okay, that sounds a little corny, but it's probably what I will forever call last Tuesday when I went to the library to get a Beagle book or two. I'd read "The Last Unicorn," loved it, and had decided to see what else this man could do. I picked up "A Fine and Private Place," and another book by him, "Tasmin." I started AFAPP as soon as I got home, and finished it around 3:15 that morning. From the first sentence, I was hooked. Speaking of the first sentence, I had to read this one a few times to make sure I had it. "The baloney weighed the raven down..." Yes, that's it! AFAPP is a deeply touching story about a recluse living in a cemetery, a brash raven with an attitude, and two lost ghosts. What really makes this book special though, is the writing style. Beagle seamlessly weaves together beautiful, almost lyrical, words with a timeless tale of love and discovery. Just be sure to begin reading it in the morning, because you may not be able to put it down!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dancing Jackaroo on May 1, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My favorite author, Robin McKinley, has a comment on her website about how important it is to be able to distinguish between, "This book sucks bears," and "This book isn't for me." That is to say that some books may be well-written, but still not appeal at all to certain readers, even readers who otherwise enjoy that author. That's pretty much how I felt about this book.

On the one hand, it's written by Peter Beagle, who has a wonderful style that I love. He's a great author, and I haven't seen him completely butchering anything.

On the other hand, the book's premise left me cold. The main idea is that after you die you just kind of continue. Beagle decides to go against all of the major ideas about death: no heaven or hell, no ended existence, no nirvana, rebirth, or anything else. Instead, your spirit just kind of hangs around in the cemetery where you're buried (being unable to leave it) and you gradually forget life and being human. Eventually you more or less give up and lay down in your grave to "sleep" (the quotation marks because you can't do that either now that you're dead).

Enter two of the main characters, two people who have just died and are still in their "trying to deal with it and hang on to life" phase. As they hang out in the cemetery, they gradually get to know each other and eventually fall in love.

I think the main point here is that love can come anywhere and any time. There's also supposed to be something about how Michael and Laura are doing their best to hang on to each other and their love despite the hopelessness of their situation. It could probably be a fairly touching story, except that the whole blah-ness of existence after death turned me off. It had such a grey hopelessness to it.
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