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Health and Happiness Paperback – May 1, 1998


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having chosen to set her latest novel (after Persian Nights ) in a hospital milieu (within the San Francisco Bay Area), Johnson succeeds remarkably well in replicating that world, but not so well in the delineation of character, a talent her previous works revealed in full measure. Here, perhaps, her signature ironic detachment holds the characters at too far a remove; the women in particular are passive, flaky, even silly, with no intellectual life. The doctors, too, are stereotypical, and we instinctively know that the model of rectitude will have the farthest fall from grace. The plot revolves around Ivy Tarro, an exceptionally beautiful single mother, who is admitted with a minor problem that is treated incorrectly, propelling her to the verge of death. Johnson not only knows how a hospital works, she understands the professional and social hierarchies; the rivalry between the medical and surgical services; the subtle distinctions among house staff; the crises, from the moral to the mundane; the questions of medical ethics, complicated by the availability of lifesaving equipment. (The most effective scenes are, in fact, graphic descriptions of patients being kept alive by artificial means.) The timeliness of her theme and her adroit plotting, should make this Johnson's most commercial novel; one cannot but wish, however, that the narrative were less facile and more deeply felt. Literary Guild alternate.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Professor, literary critic, and author of a highly acclaimed biography of Dashiell Hammett, Johnson sets her latest novel in San Francisco at the fictional Alta Buena Hospital, focusing as she has before on the lives of the privileged. Her tale of relations among Dr. Philip Watts (handsome senior physician), Ivy Tarro (beautiful patient), and Mimi Franklin (dedicated volunteer) is, except for a few explicit phrases, a romance novel: breathless and girlish in tone, too dependent on implausible plot developments, regrettably prone to ethnic and sexual stereotyping, filled with predictable female fantasies. Not Johnson's best work by a long shot, but simple and pleasant reading. Recommended for comprehensive collections of popular fiction.
- Molly McCluer, Piedmont, Cal.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452280001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452280007
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,043,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Wasn't sure exactly what this book wanted to be, a drama, a comedy, a thriller, or what. It had entirely too many main characters and left too many interesting bits unsaid/unresolved at the end. After thinking about it, I'd say that this book was sort of like reading an episode (or maybe a season of) "ER" but at least on the tv show they can resolve some of the patient's stories. Still, I enjoyed this book much more than I did "Le Divorce," which seemed to have some outrageously nutty plot twists.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Reader from San Francisco on November 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Coming from the Bay Area and having worked extensively in the health care field here, I was quite taken with the manner in which Johnson was able to achieve a very authentic voice. Ivy was interesting and it was fun tagging along with her as she dealt with the many struggles set before her. I liked that the story ended with her getting her act together rather than riding off into the sunset with a man as a solution to her problems.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julie S. on October 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
I love Le Divorce, so I was sorry to struggle through this one. It felt clumsy, obvious and a little like a soap opera. Oh well.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Like the other reviewer, I couldn't quite figure out what this novel wanted to be. There were many issues that were left unresolved, and there were potential sub-plots that were touched upon but not developed -malpractice, Ivy's ex, etc. Just when I thought the action was really moving along, it just fizzled. In the end, I was left with more questions that answers. Aargh.
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