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Margarettown Hardcover – May 25, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; First Edition edition (May 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401352421
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401352424
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #661,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An unusual telling of boy-meets-girl, Zevin's debut reiterates female complexity through a husband and daughter's experiences with one surprising woman. N., the earnest narrator, describes meeting captivating, mercurial Maggie Towne when he's a grad student. They travel to her childhood home, Margarettown, where he finds no inhabitants save women named Margaret: there's giggling girl May, sullen teenager Mia, bitter middle-aged Marge, wise elderly Old Margaret and suicidal artist Greta, conspicuous by her absence. It's not giving much away to reveal that these women are all Maggie herself ("you won't find a woman in the world that doesn't have a couple other women inside her," she says), though whether Margarettown is a real place or N.'s invention is left in doubt. While the book's first half concerns N.'s struggles to love and understand the various manifestations of Margaret, the end belongs to their daughter, Jane, who reads her father's version of her parents' courtship after they both have died. In between, subplots—about N.'s happy-go-lucky guardian, Margaret's and N.'s adulteries, and N.'s rejected former girlfriend, who eventually falls for N.'s sister, Bess, and raises Jane with her—sometimes feel like padding on a conceit that would have been better expressed in a short story. But the story is darkly whimsical and Zevin's writing is both playful and touching. Agent, Jonathan Pecarsky at William Morris. (May)

From Booklist

In this fanciful first novel, a man called N. travels to Margarettown with a woman he loves named Margaret Towne. It is inhabited solely by four women: Old Margaret, who is 77 and can read minds; fiftysomething Marge, who is stout and hates men; 17-year-old Mia, who writes and draws constantly; and 7-year-old tomboy May. The novel is cast as a letter written by a dying N. to his and Margaret's daughter relaying their courtship and marriage. N. takes a great deal of poetic license in describing the many facets of his wife's personality, seeking to impart to his daughter something of the emotional truth of their relationship. The novel is, at times, an affecting portrayal of intimacy and how one's identity is impacted by aging and experience. It is also so elaborately conceived and executed that its artificiality can impede engagement. Conversations sometimes meander seemingly without point, and at other times, the points are made a bit too often and too insistently. Still, the novel can be deeply insightful about marriage, presenting it as equal parts bravery and foolishness. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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I rarely read a book in one day.
J. Mccormick
The novel Margarettown, written by Gabrielle Zevin was a very captivating story about the relationship of one man and one women with several other women inside of her.
SpaceInvaderAlex
It was completely different and not necessarily in a good way.
K. L. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Gabrielle Zevin's debut novel tells the unusual story of N. and the woman (or women) he loves. He meets Maggie (nee Margaret) Towne in college, they fall in love, and she takes him home to meet the family. She's from a town called Margarettown and it is inhabited by 4 people; Old Margaret, the giggling youngster May, brooding teenager Mia, and the sour middle-aged Marge. The only one missing is the suicidal Greta. And they are all the same person, only at different ages. I'm not giving much away to reveal that these women are all the same woman ("you won't find a woman in the world that doesn't have a couple other women inside her," she says), however whether Margarettown is a real place or of N.'s invention is left in doubt. The explanation given by Old Margaret, of what happened to make her split into many different Margarets) is strange yet also strangely understandable.

This novel is a wonderful portrayal of how one's identity is effected by life experience and aging. At times I was afraid Zevin wouldn't be able to hold all her plots together but they came out at the end all neatly tied in a bow. This story is darkly whimsical and the writing lighthearted, yet poignant.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on June 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was another person back then," people are apt to say when explaining past deeds or ideologies. It is interesting to explore this idea of who we are and how we are ever changing, sometimes radically, over time. Through the course of our lives we have many roles, we often feel or seem like very different people than we once were. But there is a constant, an essence of who we truly are. Gabrielle Zevin, in her amazing debut novel MARGARETTOWN, explores this theme from three different angles --- by looking at how one man understands the woman he loves, how that woman understands her emotionally fractured self, and how their daughter will use the story of her parents, especially her mother, in her own life.

When N. meets Maggie Towne, he is a graduate student teaching assistant and she is a mysterious undergrad. N. is both frustrated and entranced with Maggie and will continue to feel that way the rest of his life. Their relationship moves fast and soon N. is on his way to upstate New York to visit Margaret's family in a town called Margarettown. There, instead of her parents, he meets Margaret's "family," the women who occupy her life. Old Margaret, Marge, Mia and May all live together in a house called Margaron. There is one other, Greta, who went crazy and killed herself. Still, Greta's ghost, her presence, is strong in the house. N. comes to realize that all these women are Maggie, or better said, Maggie is all these women. May is the carefree child she was, Mia the pouty and artistic teenager. Marge is the disappointed middle-aged woman she may become and Old Margaret the peaceful, reflective old woman. Greta is the dark side of Maggie, her fragile self barely under the surface.

How is N. to navigate a life with Maggie when she is ever changing and unpredictable?
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By SpaceInvaderAlex on September 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The novel Margarettown, written by Gabrielle Zevin was a very captivating story about the relationship of one man and one women with several other women inside of her. N tells a story about learning how to love multiple women in one, losing her, trying to get through a summer with her family (all females) and going through an affair.N begins writing this novel for his daughter so she knows every detail about her decised mother before he passes away. During the first 100 pages or so, I wasn't very interested in the novel. I found it to be moderately slow paced and dull. The main idea seemed ridiculous and I couldn't understand why it was recommended. Eventually it started to change pace and it became a lot more interesting. I felt that the interaction between the two main characters was very realistic even though it may seem completely fiction when you're reading it.

Since the author of the novel is a female, I found that one of the most compelling features of the book was that the story is told MAINLY from a male's point of view. At first I found that to be awkward, but after reading it I changed my mind. Once I completed this novel, I was very satisfied. It was a short book and an easy read. I felt that the ending was appropriate and realized that if the beginning didn't have so much stress on just two topics, then there would be no point to the story. This isn't an immature novel, but when recommending this book, I belive that the young adult reader may enjoy it a little more. Generally it MAY be more preffered to a younger audience. Overall, Gabrielle Zevin definately produced a great first novel that is worth reading.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. L. Johnson on July 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My first exposure to this talented author was "Elsewhere", which I highly recommend. Because I loved her writing style, I decided to pick up her first book. It was completely different and not necessarily in a good way.

It was so odd that I'm not sure I even know how to describe it. Margarettown is a physical place, yet somehow a symbolic representation of the many facets of a woman's personality. Sounds a bit strange, right? It is. Parts of it work well....and other parts were confusing and seemed disjointed. I'd love an author explanation of what she meant!

I'd read "Elsewhere" again, but this book - no. Skip it or, if you must, read a library copy. She *is* a talented author so I'll be looking for her next release, coming soon!
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