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Lily White Hardcover – July 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 459 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1st edition (July 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060176075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060176075
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,493,371 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Susan Isaac's seventh novel is the first story of Lee White, a criminal lawyer on Long Island ensnared with a con man accused of murder. Lee is a privileged, Jewish baby-boomer, whose parents changed their name to White before her birth and then named her Lily. Her family's rise to unhappiness is directly related to their rise to affluence, and Lily tries repeatedly to liberate herself to prove herself as a wife, a daughter, a parent, and a lawyer. Though she struggles with self-doubt, Lily's strength comes from her ability to acknowledge vulnerability and overcome it. As she unravels the truth, she faces some difficult family truths and solidifies her belief in herself.

From Publishers Weekly

Marjorie Morningstar meets Nancy Drew in Isaacs's latest, which succeeds as both a coming-of-age story and a legal thriller. Her wit honed by familiarity with two milieus she knows well, Isaacs creates a character who moves between the conspicuous consumption of upwardly mobile and dying-to-be-assimilated Jews on Long Island and the criminal justice system (Isaacs's husband is a well-known attorney), where a successful trial lawyer sometimes must defend unsavory clients. These spheres are joined in Lily White, nee Lily Rose Weiss, who narrates the sections of the novel that deal with her defense of oily con man Norman Torkelson and her suspicions that his gorgeous girlfriend actually committed the crime for which he is charged, the murder of a "mark" whom he had fleeced out of thousands of dollars by promising to marry her. Running in tandem are chapters that describe Lily's self-absorbed parents' rise in the world and the ludicrous ways in which they try to fit into WASP society. It's especially ironic that when Lily weds super-WASP Jasper "Jazz" Foster, whom she has adored from childhood, the marriage succumbs to pressures that arise as much from class differences as they do from character. Irony succeeds irony when Jazz declares himself in love with Lily's sister, Robin, Lily's complete antithesis. If it sometimes seems that these parallel narratives should have been two different books, most readers will bond with Lily and gladly switch back and forth between the stages of her life. For on one level, Isaacs has created a pitch-perfect social satire; on another, while the suspense is never spine tingling, she has written a psychological thriller whose portraits of an amoral conman and his mate, of the dehumanizing effects of the prison system and of the stages of a criminal investigation are rendered with snappy authenticity. Literary Guild and Doubleday $250,000 main selections; ad/promo; simultaneous audio; author tour; rights: William Morris Agency.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author


First, here's what the critics say::

AFiction done well and done with a difference...A sophisticated storyteller, with a wry view of the world.@ - Washington Post


AJane Austen brought up to date...Highly amusing.@ - Atlantic Monthly


ASusan Isaacs is a witty, wry observer of the contemporary scene.@ - New York Times Book Review

ASardonic humor and dead-on commentary.@ - Houston Chronicle


ASusan Isaacs knows the art of dialogue the way J.S. Bach knew the art of the fugue.@ - Seattle Times


Blockbuster writers tend to be no more than terrific storytellers. Susan Isaacs=s talents go far beyond that. She is a witty, insightful, and elegant writer.@ - Mademoiselle

AI can think of no other novelist--popular or highbrow--who consistently celebrates female gutsiness, brains and sexuality. She=s Jane Austen with a schmear.@ Maureen Corrigan- National Public Radio Fresh Air


AWho....., is our best popular novelist? The nominee for this quarter is Susan Isaacs....[She] is a comic realist, an astute chronicler of contemporary life in the tradition of....Anthony Trollope.@ - Sun Sentinel



Susan's biography

Susan Isaacs, novelist, essayist and screenwriter, was born in Brooklyn and educated at Queens College. She worked as an editorial assistant at Seventeen magazine writing everything from book reviews to advice to the lovelorn. In 1968, Susan married Elkan Abramowitz, then a federal prosecutor. She became a senior editor but left Seventeen in 1970 to stay home with her newborn son, Andrew. Three years later, she gave birth to Elizabeth. During this time she freelanced, writing political speeches as well as magazine articles.

In the mid-seventies, Susan got the urge to write a novel. A year later she began Compromising Positions, a whodunit set on suburban Long Island. It was published in. Her second novel, Close Relations, a love story set against a background of ethnic, sexual and New York Democratic politics (thus a comedy), was published in. Her third, Almost Paradise, was published in 1984. All of Susan's novels have been New York Times bestsellers. Her fiction has been translated into thirty languages.

In 1985, she wrote the screenplay for Paramount's Compromising Positions, which starred Susan Sarandon and Raul Julia. She also wrote and co-produced Disney's Hello Again. The 1987 comedy starred Shelley Long and Gabriel Byrne.

Her fourth novel, Shining Through, set during World War II, was published in 1988. The film adaptation starred Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith. Then came Magic Hour January 1991, After All These Years in 1993. Lily White in 1996 and Red, White and Blue in 1998. In 1999, Susan came out with her first work of nonfiction, Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing on Page and Screen. During 2000, she wrote a series of columns on the presidential campaign for Newsday. Long Time No See, a sequel to Compromising Positions, came out in September 2001. Anyplace I Hang My Hat, was published in 2004. Past Perfect is her eleventh novel.

Susan Isaacs is a recipient of the Writers for Writers Award and the John Steinbeck Award. She serves as chairman of the board of Poets & Writers and is a past president of Mystery Writers of America. She is also a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The Creative Coalition, PEN, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Adams Round Table. Besides writing innumerable book reviews, Susan has also written about politics, film and First Amendment issues. She lives on Long Island with her husband.

Customer Reviews

What a fun book!
C. Lacher
It dealt with way too much specifics on the law and such and not enough on developing the charachters like she did in Almost Paradise.
Jeanne Anderson
Witty, funny, intelligent reading.
megathome@aol.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By MZ on September 22, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked this book because I thought it sounded like a murder mystery -- a female defense attorney trying to prove her client -- who is probably guilty -- innocent. I thought this book might be comparable to Ed McBain.

This book, however, was more character study than murder mystery, in my opinion. The mystery was still there -- with lots of great twists and turns -- some guessable and some not.

But the thing about Lily White, the book and the person, that made me give the novel 4 stars is that I identified with Lee (AKA Lily White). Sure, Lee is an ambitious attorney. Her family (at first I felt I knew too much about them, but this only made the end that much more heartfelt) is nothing like my own (thankfully loving family). The differences are night and day. And yet, there is something there, some part of Lee, that I would bet is in all of us. By the end of the book, I was cursing those who had wronged and conned Lee White, cheering her new beginning at the end and every struggle she had won.

As this book drew toward the end, I could not put it down! And then, when it ended, I wanted to know what was next for Lee White. I could have read another 500 pages. She had become a real person to me, someone I thought of as a friend.

And that, to me, is the mark of a good book.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Lacher on June 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What a fun book! The New York Times isn't lying when it calls this book "a big, fat happy feast of a book..." It makes the perfect beach, vacation, airplane book (especially those coast-to-coast flights).
The author's slightly sardonic tone works well here and drew me in from the first sentence. How refreshing to identify with a novel's character because she is FALLIBLE in many all-too human ways. The author also deftly meshes the current story with an engrossing and wonderfully written backstory then brings them together wonderfully at the end.
While the heroine is in truth one of those Danielle Steele characters of beauty, brains, and wealth, it takes you a while to figure that out. Her flaws and dysfunctional history make her believable and enjoyable. I never once wanted to BE the heroine, but I sure enjoyed reading about her. Along the way, Isaacs makes some rather interesting observations of what makes a family and what "family" really means, especially in today's society. What an unusual thing to find in a "mass market paperback."
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By sassi214 on January 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read Isaacs' Compromising Positions a fews years back and stumbled across Lily White in the library. (incidentally, i found Compromising to be excellent.) Lily has it all. Suspense, intrique, emotion, laughs. The first time I read this book, I read it like it's written, starting with Lee White as a lawyer who is handling an interesting case while ex-DA office coworkers give her dirty looks for going to "bat for the bad guys". All the goings on of looking into the lives of some very strange people who will con their way out of a paper bag. This storyline gets swapped back and forth every chapter with Lee's parent's marriage, her childhood, her marriage (and ultimately it's demise), leading up to the moment she finds herself secure enough to live a happy-ending life. The style of this book was different and Isaacs takes care to not make it confusing to the reader. Her words are intelligent and the story kept me going til I put it down. A while after I read it through the first time, I picked it up and read every other chapter to follow that story, then went back and read all the opposite chapters. Different tone, but just as delicious. You get more for your money with Lily White.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By megathome@aol.com on January 14, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is no one quite like Lee White. Although everyone finds a part of themselves in Lee White, Susan Isaacs incredibly realistic character. Witty, funny, intelligent reading. Recommended to anyone who enjoys really knowing the characters they read and being engrossed in their lives. Lee finds that perhaps the best way to make yourself happy is to be not quite perfect. Being, not the damsel in distress nor the perfect feminist model, Lee's wit and point- blank look at life make her character incredibly relatable. Isaacs leaves you feeling like looking back after a long trip, complete with u-turns and potholes, but glad you bought your ticket.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book over a long weekend. I didn't want anyone to talk to me because I couldn't put it down. I did not realize until a few chapters into it that there were two parallel story lines, both so interesting that I wanted to finish each chapter as soon as possible. Everyone will love this book.
Sometimes I had to reread lines when she uses a few cutesy terms but that is my only criticism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I usually enjoy Isaacs' books immensely, this one lost my interest early on, and I found myself plugging through it in the hope that it'd get better (it never did). The plot is full of enough interesting twists to keep you going, and the characters are (as usual) well drawn and complex. Also, she's very good at dissecting the complications of family relationships, and Lily's family was horrifyingly believable. What spoiled it for me, I think, was her device of alternating first-person narrative by Lily herself, and third-person narrative by some eye-in-the-sky (Lilycam?). What "makes" Isaacs' novels for me (and I suspect for a lot of other readers) is the feisty, funny narrators -- and every time the Disembodied Voice started in, I found my attention wandering. I hope Isaacs goes back to what she does best; this isn't it.
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