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P.S.: A Novel Paperback – May 3, 2002


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Schulman (The Revisionist) concocts a wacky, high-spirited romp of a romance, pairing up her heroine with a lover who has returned from the dead or has he? Divorced, 30-something Louise Harrington, acting admissions coordinator for Columbia University's graduate fine arts program, is paging through applications when a familiar name catches her eye and sets her mind reeling. "Feinstadt, Scott" could it possibly be the rebellious, artistically talented high school boy she was crazy about, who died in a car accident 20 years earlier on his way to his first year at college? The potential grad student's name is actually F. Scott Feinstadt, but the similarities same birth date (though different year), same background and so forth abound, as Louise discovers when she meets F. Scott for a trumped-up, in-person interview. After a slow start, Schulman picks up the pace with witty observations about Louise and her ex-husband Peter's dysfunctional co-dependence, Louise's stormy friendship with scheming high school classmate Missy and her ongoing frustration with her mother. Schulman has created a winning character in Louise, whose favorite pastime since her divorce is "to list reasons for not killing herself" one of which is that her obnoxious brother "would get all the inheritance." The author has a marvelous knack for capturing contemporary relationships, replete with complicated subtexts, family baggage and societal pressures that make the prospect of finding a healthy love relationship nearly impossible. A certain glossiness a surfeit of brand names and a fixation on questions of lifestyle keeps the novel from going too deep, but Schulman's delightful, piquant tale gives a clever, unusual account of how its protagonist learns to let go of the past. Author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

Louise Harrington, a divorced graduate-admissions coördinator at Columbia, has replaced the pursuit of love with aerobics, shopping, and watching well-built male students play Frisbee from her office window. It's not a perfect life, but it will do, until she reads the application of one F. Scott Feinstadt, a painter with the same name and birthday as her first love, who died in a car accident. Impulsively, she arranges to meet F. Scott, and the two begin an unlikely—and at times absurd—affair, which threatens Louise's friendships and perhaps her job. Schulman's darkly comedic portrait of searching for romance in a city of jaundiced skeptics is appealingly sharp-tongued, and the novel succeeds best when she relies on humor and physical detail to reveal the deeper currents of Louise's desire for a lover unspoiled by cynicism.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (May 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582342083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582342085
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #251,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
"P.S." raises an interesting question: what if you had a second chance with someone who is -- or is very like -- your first and only real love? Helen Schulman makes a real effort to delve into the questions about love, lust, memories, and reincarnation... but she never quite figures out how to answer those questions.

Years ago, Louisa was in love with Scott Feinstadt, a sexy charmer who died abruptly, leaving her teenage emotions up in the air. Now she is thirty-eight, divorced from a sex-addicted husband, and living a dull life as a college admissions administrator. Enter F. Scott Feinstadt, a hunky young student who is the spitting image of her dead lover.

Soon Louisa has taken up with F. Scott again, feeling as if she's been given a second chance with the man she loved -- their age differences and different lives make no difference. But what does make a difference is Louisa's ex-husband and her catty best friend. And when her friend spills the beans about Louisa's two Scott Feinstadts, it may destroy her new relationship.

As an idea, "P.S." can't be matched. Schulman dives headfirst into a sort of metaphysical (and VERY physical) tale that just avoids being a Mrs. Robinson story. Is F. Scott a reincarnation, a son, or a cosmic sign? It's also a very compelling story of a woman approaching middle-age, who is looking back on a life devoid of passion and happiness.

What it lacks is a real answer to its own questions. Okay, the ending decides what F. Scott isn't -- but it never tells us what he is either. The similarities between him and his predecessor never quite get explained, but there are too many of them for it to be a coincidence. It sort of putters slowly to a stop, and Schulman's glossy writing can't hide its problems.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on July 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I had fun with this novel. It is a rather unique romance that gives you a new meaning to deja vu. Louise has just run into her childhood love. But it can't be. He died 20 years ago in a car wreck. Actually, it is a whole other person -- or is he? Everything seems to match, including date of birth and other characteristics. The heroine takes us in a witty and sensuous journey in which she tries to figure out who this mysterious person is.
I loved the characterization and witty dialogue. This is the first Helen Schulman novel I have read, and, believe me, it won't be the last. I highly recommend this title.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lev Raphael on April 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
I'm a bit surprised at some of the reviews below that seem to have expected a crime novel's resolution. The "mystery" never quite being resolved isn't disappointing because that's not truly the focus of the book. It's a reverie, a dream, a story about Louise's journey out of herself, getting unstuck in every possible way. I also think a little knowledge is clearly a dangerous thing when someone complains about the 3rd person POV only showing us the main character. That's because it's 3rd person limited, folks, not omniscient--and a wise choice it is, or there wouldn't be enough tension.

I thought the POV, the language, the wit, the sexuality, everything about this book was magical, surprising, compelling. I reviewed it professionally for the Jerusalem Report Magazine and on NPR's (former) The Todd Mundt Show and felt glad to have those opportunities to bring it to readers' attention. Here's the conclusion of my capsule NPR review: "This a magical, romantic book. The prose is lustrous, the tone comic, the characters deeply imagined and sympathetic. An unusual, unforgettable novel." And here's the last graf of my Jerusalem Report review: "Schulman (author of 'The Revisionist') has a keen eye for New York's colorful street life, which she can invest with the romance of 'The Great Gatsby'when she wants to. She beautifully juggles the comedy and rage flaring up unexpectedly in any intimate relationship and she writes sex scenes as original, elegant and complex as Mary Gordon's in 'Spending' or Lisa Zeidner's in 'Layover.' Poignant and luminous, this is a book to read aloud, to re-read, to urge on friends."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on July 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
P.S. is a terrific romantic comedy with a twist. The twist is that there is a plausible story with strong characters. The emphasis in P.S. is much more on romance (or more like lust, love and sex) than on comedy, although it is very funny at times, and always told with humor. Louise has never truly gotten over her first love, Scott Feinstadt, who died in a car accident at 19 a few weeks after breaking up with her (for her best friend). Louise carried on, eventually marrying one of her professors ten years her senior. The marriage ultimately fell apart, but they remained very good friends, very close. Louise drifted along, never realizing the depths of her unhappiness until one day, she comes across F. Scott Feinstadt, a 24 year old man with a more than uncanny resemblance to that first love. Her best friend swings back into the picture, the exhusband gets involved, and Louise discovers some uncomfortable things about the life she has led so far.
While this has all the elements of a standard romantic comedy--unmarried woman, old relationship, new relationship, stumbling blocks in the way--it is much, much better than most. The story is very clever, with nothing outlandish or fairy tale like. It's also a little thought provoking. Schulman ruminates on the nature of relationships and loneliness, of how one can be married, yet still be totally alone. I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend it.
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