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Lucky Girls: Stories Paperback – August 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006008880X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060088804
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,920,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nell Freudenberger knows from lucky girls. She has had a lot of luck herself in her short writing career: Her debut story was featured in The New Yorker, with a glossy full-color author photo alongside; a quick book contract ensued, on the strength of that one published story; and now comes a debut collection full of stories that are actually good. The Lucky Girls collected here are far-flung Americans, young women trying to figure out where they belong in the world. In "The Tutor," teenage Julia and her businessman father are living in Bombay; her mother has returned to the United States. Julia crams for the SATs with her tutor Zubin, smokes cigarettes, and goes to nightclubs; her father hovers at home. Freudenberger gets just right the moments when Julia and her father find themselves alone together, trying to be a family: "It was just the two of them at the table then; even with the leaves taken out and stored against the wall in the coat closet, they had to half-stand in order to pass the soup." Too, she knows the upper-class world of which she writes. In "The Orphan," Mandy's parents and brother come to visit her in Thailand, where she is working with "AIDS babies." Mandy's brother Josh appears, and Freudenberger skewers his type, neatly, in a sentence: "Josh looks like someone coming out of trench warfare in the Balkans, rather than college in Maine." But Freudenberger isn't telling easy rich-kid stories. She's forever pushing her narration. In "The Tutor," we hear from Zubin, an overeducated Indian, as well as from Julia. "The Orphan," in turn, is told by Mandy's mom, a woman bewildered by yet proud of her daughter's choice to remain in Thailand. Freudenberger's stories are cosmopolitan, expansive, and richly detailed, a beguiling combination of qualities. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Freudenberger saw her first story, "Lucky Girls," published in the New Yorker's 2001 debut fiction issue and subsequently received a reported six-figure sum to round out the collection with a bunch more (at that time unwritten) works. The gamble has paid off, at least from a critical perspective: the five long stories in this collection are thoughtful and entertaining. Most take place in Asia and feature Americans living abroad. In the title piece, a young American painter recalls her long affair with a married Indian man. The man has died unexpectedly, and the story traces the development of the narrator's antagonistic yet moving relationship with the mother of her late lover. "The Orphan" is a witty story of a middle-aged couple who, along with their college-age son, go to Thailand for Christmas to visit their daughter and break the news of their impending divorce. The daughter, who works at a Bangkok hospital for orphaned AIDS babies, finds her parents benighted and so... Western, while her brother announces that he belongs to the Cool Rich Kids club, whose members seek to give their parents' money away ("it's this chance to endorse the more radical causes that people your age wouldn't support"). In "The Tutor," a romance blossoms between an Indian SAT coach and a Prada-wearing American teenager living in Bombay who wants nothing more than to get into UC-Berkeley. Many of these tales concern the slow birth and disintegration of romantic relationships, although some lack pull, due to their one-dimensional characters. Freudenberger is more inventive and piquant when she probes characters' relationships to their adopted homelands-which, she shows, are often more passionate and grounded than their ties to the people in their lives.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I read the book based on a strong review, but I was greatly disappointed.
Winfield Scott
Perhaps even if her writing was beautiful I feel I couldve overlooked the poor story lines.
Ashlynn
The characters were not likeable, the stories were not exciting, some didnt even make sense.
nuarc

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Simplistic, cliched, shallow, not well developed, unlikeable and uninsteresting aimless characters with hollow lives populate this book of long winded stories. The author admitted in an interview that most of these stories were the salvage of a single failed novel attempt, and it shows.

Every story has at least one young woman who is just like a young woman in all the other stories. Her name and biographic details change but she has the same personality in each story, the same narcissistic, selfish outlook on life, almost sociopathic, where all other people are viewed as objects from which she tries to gain advantage or pleasure.

In the end of just about each story the main character is not proven wrong in any way, but is vindicated, which makes the stories read like lectures. You can just see the finger wagging in your face.
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jill Sterling on October 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
It's funny--most of the positive reviews for this book seem to be from the New York area--where the author is from--I feel fairly certain they're friends of hers. The strories here are just dismally mediocre, the "musings" of the socially privileged and insulated..the author just doesn't seem to have anything to say. It's certainly not envy that provokes me to write this--I am a reader, not a writer--I cheer every time a good book comes into the world but this one made me sigh with frustration. It's just...flat and amateurish. I think the so-called "jealous" reviews below are more bewilderment that this author has gotten so much unwarranted media attention when there are so many worthier candidates...sigh--better luck next time.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I really am. I didn't buy this book- thank God- but I've waited since we've acquired it at our public library- about eight months- to check it out. Let me tell you- it's like opening a Christmas present that has sat under the tree for a month, mysterious and promising, only to find that it's something "practical" or a "great bargain". And of course Lucky Girls was neither of these, even. The writing was bland and too safe-side, completely without imagination. Even the subjects were bland. Freudenberger managed to take a whole country with more allure than 97 percent of the places on this planet and water it down to a mere setting, not much different than my back yard Suburbia (even with all the references to poverty- which were just that: references). And Freudenberger doesn't connect herSELF to her own characters- how can she expect us, as readers, to connect to them?
I predict (and I'll eat my words if things work out to the contrary) that she'll have a novel out within a year and a half. There will be gobs of hype about it, with a lot of false assumptions about the warm reception of her collection of stories to fool readers into feeling they've been waiting for this novel forEVER. And it may even be a bestseller, but the novel will recieve such half-convinced reviews that we'll not be hearing from Freudenberger for a long time after that- or until she's at last found her strengths and weaknesses and worked them out- artistically, that is.
And, by the way, she's a very lovely girl. And sex sells. And all's fair in the publishing industry. The truth obviously comes out- as we've seen just in this small space on Amazon- when people concentrate on the content, but people like Freudenberger need all the head start they can get when they write so dispassionately.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By "kswen34" on November 9, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I knew nothing of this author when I picked up this book and find all the back and forthing in these reviews pretty amusing.
This is a perfectly OK collection of stories but nothing special. This is not some "talent for the ages" that some in the Eastern establishment seemed to have decreed. It's competent if rather shallow writing, standard-issue "Iike, I totally didn't know what I wanted to do with my life so I went and got an M.F.A" stuff..
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Simply put, this book is fine. It won't stay with you, however, nor will you find it particularly moving while you're reading it. I mean--well, it's fine. And that's not exactly what I look for in a book, and I doubt you do either. If you're interested, my advice is wait for the paperback.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
When the hype regarding "Lucky Girls" began, I was determined not to read this book...the premise linking the stories didn't appeal to me, and I am often not a fan of collections of short fiction.
However, when I picked up a recent issue of Granta and noticed one of Freudenberger's stories, I read it. And the story that I read, I found to be wonderful. So I bought the book.
Freudenberger, has a way with describing the romantic trysts that permeate the collection. I found the relationship between the young girl and her tutor to be beautifully and insightfully written. Unfortunately, I felt that Freudenberger was trying to hard not to fall into the cliched category that is "women writing about romance" in the rest of her stories and I didn't much get into her writing when she stepped outside of the form and subject matter that she did best. I was especially unmoved by the way that she depicted familial relationships in almost every story (most strongly in the story about the suicidal mother and alzheimer's stricken father - which I loathed)
Overall, I found the collection to be readable, but not riveting. Moreover, I don't believe that I will pick up the next book. There doesn't seem to be a lot of room to move for this author - the stories didn't seem to be brimming with unrealized talent.
It seems that the story that I loved, "The tutor" was a lucky shot.
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