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Late Bloomer: A Novel Hardcover – March 16, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385503040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385503044
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,457,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Pritchard's brilliant mix of romance and satire may have a heart made of cactus, but it goes down like hot Indian fry bread dipped in honey. "Shouldn't one live one's romance, not read about preposterous imaginary ones?" muses Prudence True Parker, college prof and single mom shortly before romance novelist Digby Deeds (aka Mildred Crawley) bequeaths her the last 40 plot lines from his bestselling Savage Passions series as a reward for passing him toilet paper in a lavatory. Parker, author of one award-winning book, hasn't written anything in years, but has mounting bills and a 17-year-old daughter to support, so she accepts. Then Parker meets gorgeous Ray Chasing Hawk, Comanche artist (and former porno films soundtrack composer), a self-styled "Lord of the Southern Plains," 14 years her junior. Although Hawk likes to bite rather than kiss and says, "[Y]ou are so white you glow in the dark," he's soon sharing Parker's Arizona nest, painting, modeling and preparing to become a Sun Dancer. Meanwhile, a parade of vividly drawn characters, including Hawk's fellow Sun Dancers, invade Parker's white-bread life as Hawk teaches Parker that "savage" love bears little resemblance to the novels she's been secretly writing. Pritchard's quicksilver ability to blend biting social/political commentary with a rueful analysis of relationships makes this lesson in true romance an absolutely sage-scented delight.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Arizonan Prudence True Parker teaches surprisingly effective touchy-feely writing classes at a community college. Divorced, 48, in debt, and excruciatingly lonely, she's also smart, funny, generous, spiritually inclined, and open to new experiences, of which there are many in this clever roller-coaster ride of a novel. First an enormously successful romance writer who specializes in romances about white women and hunky Native American warriors anoints Prudence his heir to the series Savage Passion. Prudence has no intention of writing such trash until she meets Ray Chasing Hawk, a gorgeous, young, and virile Comanche artist and model, and finds herself enacting a romance of her own. Or is she? Angry, difficult, and manipulative, Ray turns Prudence's life upside-down. Now truly desperate for cash, she starts writing Native American romances in secret, torrid, and cliched tales that play in ironic counterpoint to her increasingly complicated life. Pritchard overloads her otherwise wily tale with trivia, but her shrewd humor, canny insights, colorful characters, and intriguing plot prevail. Is this a romance? Yes, although by critiquing the genre, it transcends it. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Melissa Pritchard is an award-winning short story writer, novelist, essayist and journalist. The author of seven books of fiction and one biography, she has received numerous awards, including the Flannery O'Connor Award, the Carl Sandburg Award,and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has been frequently anthologized and cited in The Pushcart Prize, Prize Stories: The O.Henry Award, Best American Short Stories and numerous other anthologies. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Howard Foundation Fellowship at Brown University, the Hawthornden Foundation, Midlothian Scotland, the Bogliasco Foundation, Liguria, Italy and the Ledig-Rowohlt Foundation, Switzerland. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in journals and magazines such as The Wilson Quarterly, O, The Oprah Magazine, the Nation, The New York Times,Chicago Tribune,The Paris Review, Conjunctions, Ecotone, A Public Space, Agni, The Southern Review and The Gettysburg Review. Two of her books have been New York Times Notable Books, one was selected as a Chicago Tribune Best Books, another as a Barnes and Noble 'Discover Great New Writers' selection. National Public Radio chose one of her collections for their Annual Summer Reading List, and she has served as a judge for both the Flannery O'Connor Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her collection, The Odditorium, was one of "Ten Books to Pick Up Now," in the O, The Oprah Magazine's January, 2012 issue, and was an Oprah Winfrey "Book of the Week" selection in January, 2012. A founder of the Sr. Airman Ashton Goodman Fund, benefiting the Afghan Women's Writing Project www.awwproject.org, Melissa teaches creative writing at Arizona State University. Her personal website is www.melissapritchard.com

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Melissa Pritchard is one of the funniest writers in America, and Late Bloomer is one of the funniest books. Prudence True Parker is an instantly likable heroine and a matchless guide to the many worlds she traverses, from swap-meet, second-rate spiritualism to an unforgettable depiction of a Native American Sun Dance. Pritchard's brilliance is most clear in her ability to move from high-spirited satire to a deeply realized depiction of transcendence, and to carry them both off with perfect and delightful elan.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cathe VINE VOICE on September 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a fun book that puts down romance novels and their readers but actually is a romance novel, after all. Ironic and funny--I enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anne Holcomb on June 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Middlebrow academic Prudence True Parker is at a turning point in her life. After she meets a drag-queen romance author in the bathroom of a Tempe public library, she becomes the heir to the ongoing "Savage Passion" romance series. As soon as she begins work on her first overblown Indian romance, Prudence becomes involved with a Native activist, model and artist, Ray Chasing Hawk.
The idealized scenes which Prudence pens at late hours contrast with her complicated and messy real-life relationship with Ray. Prudence finds that our culture's idealized depictions of Native American life and the American West are much different from the reality - and, of course, that romance is never as easy as it seems.
Prudence's eventual journey to the Sun Dance with Ray and his spiritual mentors is both frustrating and enlightening, and she eventually finds a way to reconcile her personal romance story with her need to remain independent as a woman and her disdain for the empty promises of the "Savage Love" books she reluctantly authored. Prudence is joined in her midlife journey by her artistic daughter Fiona, her widowed mother, and an assortment of memorable friends and foes.
Parker's writing is tart, satirical, and her observations are bitingly accurate. Whether you are a fan of romance (or you sometimes read it as a guilty pleasure,)or you are a lover of realistic, serious literature, you will surely relate to Pritchard's deft examination of a complicated real-life romance story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on May 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Late Bloomer by Melissa Pritchard is the sassy story of Prudence True Parker. Prudence's life is suffering from a lack of money, men and memories (she doesn't have a life), until she meets drag queen Digby Deeds (alias Mildren Crowley), author of the successful Savage Passion romance series, at a book signing.

Digby is dying, and with little forethought, leaves Prudence forty romance plots to write. Life soon imitates art as Prudence pens her first Indian romance. She becomes "involved" with Ray Chasing Hawk, a Native American activist, artist and model and discovers that real life is more complicated but better than any romance novel.

Pritchard deftly blends beautiful prose with hilarious situations. I laughed a lot and somehow, by the end of the book, didn't mind growing older so very much. I had a bit of trouble getting started and the situations sometimes seemed a bit over the top but I kept turning the pages and was happy thatI did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing late in the blooming of Melissa Pritchard's Late Bloomer. It flowers with Grand-Canyon-sized hilarity from the moment Prudence True Parker stands clad in glow-in-the-dark pumpkin boxers surveying the dismal contents of her refrigerator and concluding that something in her life is off-kilter. In fact, kilter seems to have given a wide berth to the Arizona community college professor. Prudence is besieged by failures in love, money, and confidence-all rendered with Pritchard's characteristic smart and wicked insights-until Prudence finds rescue by a hero ripped from the covers of romance novels. But wait, what is rescue? Then again, what is romance? What is success? What literature? Late Bloomer plays delightful havoc with such distinctions, pulling a Navajo rug out from under accepted and presumed truths. What are truths, anyway?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coventry on December 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
"Late Bloomer" didn't quite make me want to throw it across the room but it came close.

Melissa Pritchard, who directs creative writing at Arizona State, is a funny, clever, successful writer but also reveals all the prejudices of the academic world of which she is a part. She begins the book with a nod to Janice Radway, whose groundbreaking book, Reading the Romance, analyzed why so many ordinary women read so many romance novels. Radway came to the conclusion that romances allow women some relief from the mundane, patriarchal system in which they find themselves and also give them a fantasy of being both independent and loved. She ended up with genuine respect for romance readers. Pritchard, apparently, not so much.

Pritchard's heroine, Prudence True Parker, is a struggling middle-aged English instructor at a community college (that is, the lowest of the low in the academic system), who is a sharp if snarky observer of the world around her. Somehow she falls into inheriting a romance novel series, which she only agrees to write because she is foolishly in debt, although she disdains romances. At the same time, a chance meeting with a young gorgeous Native American ends in a passionate tryst, which leads to a frustrating love affair with the typical enigmatic seemingly narcissistic hard-to-read hero. She is also caught between her newly widowed mother, who always finds fault with her, and her 20-year-old daughter, who also always finds fault with her. She is, at one and the same time, a typical romantic heroine and a sendup of the typical romantic heroine. She whines a lot for a woman nearing 50.
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