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Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life Paperback – April 17, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (April 17, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385720556
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720557
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a series of poignant vignettes, each complete within itself, Thomas succeeds in conveying an engrossing life story in surprising depth. A novelist (An Actual Life), teacher of creative writing and grandmother of six, Thomas is a fine writer who spells out the bare facts of her life with dispatch. Pregnant at 18, she married the first of her three husbands. After eight years, she and her three children moved to her parents' house in New York. After several years, she remarried. With her second husband, a physicist, she had one child before they divorced. Eleven years later, she married her present husband. Thomas looks back at her younger self with affection, drawing a compassionate portrait of a young woman seeking to make a life for herself and her children, coping with domestic chores and her own conflicting needs. Thomas writes with serious intent and dark humor about her parents, her sister, motherhood, her children and grandchildren, but her most affecting scenes describe the illness and death of the man who was her second husband. Even the structure of her memoir is elegiac, with its three parts titled "Before," "Mortality" and "Here and Now." Sorrow mixes with joy in this beautifully crafted memoir as she remembers her second spouse as a lover, husband and, finally, friend.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Snippets and vignettes from the late 1960s on magically unfold in the story of novelist Thomas's life. Amazingly, despite the short entries (some only several sentences), the reader grows emotionally attached to her husbands, sister, and children. With a flair for visual imagery, Thomas (An Actual Life) allows readers into her continued relationship with her second ex-husband, whose life is cut short by myelodysplasia. Interspersed are the details of conversations between Thomas and her sister. It's as if Thomas has allowed a camera to peer into her life while family, friends, and lovers narrate with running commentary. The humor and love intertwined throughout the book make it a surprisingly delightful story, just right for an afternoon or evening of reading, and Thomas's solid writing makes the characters rise out of the pages. This is an ideal purchase for libraries with discussion groups--there is a lot to talk about after the reader puts down the book.
-Joyce Sparrow, St. Petersburg P.L., FL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

It is a quick read but one that is definitely worthwhile.
Marianne
I love authors who know how to articulate the small joys and heartaches in life and Abigail Thomas does that so very well.
Book Lover
I enjoyed her writing style and very much liked the vignettes about certain stages in her life.
Pat holmes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Reading Safekeeping: Some True Stories From A Life, a memoir by Abigail Thomas, is much like being in conversation with a trusted friend - defenses aren't necessary, smiles abound, tears flow unashamedly.

The author, who established her literary mettle with three previous novels, most memorable for me, Herb's Pajamas (1998), writes close to the bone and straight from the heart as she reveals her life in a series of affecting vignettes. All of these engagingly candid sketches are short, some as brief as a paragraph. Yet, brevity adds to their luster.

Ms. Thomas's life was partially formed by the 1950's, a time when love was defined to her adolescent mind by parents who still closed their eyes when they kissed, and she thought 'We might all live happily ever after if only I could find the right man.' But she is no longer the girl who sang 'Hey Jude' everywhere as 'her prayer, her manifesto,' she is now thrice wed, the mother of four and grandmother of six.

Recalling her marriage at the age of eighteen Ms. Thomas notes, 'We were children, not meant to be married, but we did make beautiful babies.' A decade later, with three youngsters in tow, she ran away from her husband to live in the basement of her parents' New York City home.

It was some two years before she married again, this time to a bachelor of forty-six, a man who 'thought it gave a woman the upper hand if you told her you loved her.' He, the man with whom she spent thirty years and had one child, is at the center of much of Ms. Thomas's memoir as she delicately traces the arc of their relationship from love to rancor and back to love again. There was acrimony before and after their divorce.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jill Gates on April 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
After reading Getting Over Tom, An Actual Life, and Herb's Pajamas, I was thrilled to get Abigail Thomas's new book. This book is brilliantly written, revealing emotions that I before now didn't think could be expressed through written material. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has read anything by Ms. Thomas before, and to those who have not yet been introduced to this author's wonderful writing style. The book will make you laugh and may even make you cry. Ms. Thomas courageously reveals things that many people keep to themselves. I thank Ms. Thomas for sharing her life with us and writing such a wonderful book.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jean Brown on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
weep and laugh and most of all feel all the emotions life holds...Thomas writes______"this is not what I expected. I expected pure joy, and here are joy and sorrow mixing into the same moment." Doesn't that express so often how we feel, this book is filled with so many moments that I identified with...how can you not love a woman who writes ..the truth was she didn't keep the can opener anywhere. The can opener was wherever she'd last left it; the can opener was where she found it. Abigail Thomas reveals so much of herself in this book but even more one finds so much of theirself as well...it does leave one wanting to know even more about Thomas and her life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a writer and university professor of literature, I have rarely seen a new work as lovely and startling as Abigail Thomas's "Safekeeping." This raw, unsentimentalized portrait of an "average" woman -- from lost girl, mother of three, wandering barefoot through the wilds of '60s Manhattan, to secure, established, apple-cake-baking grandmother -- gorgeously rendered in short-short, wrenching, often hilarious vignettes, should top this summer's lists. Buy and read this elegant little volume, and give it away; then buy it and give it away again. "Safekeeping" is a keepsake for all time. Perfect for reading clubs -- Oprah's or yours.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
to read this honest, large-hearted, memoir, told in a series of short (often only a paragraph, sometimes a page) vignettes. You won't regret it. Thomas reveals a life lived fully, with all senses engaged, smell, taste, touch, in these pieces about her first marriage when she was a pregnant teenager, to a second with a much older physicist ("Dance for me while the chicken is cooking," he says to her) whom she divorces and later becomes very good friends with, to her third, happy coupling, and the children she had during them. I could not stop reading this and suspect you won't be able to either. This book makes you feel full inside.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Strayed on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I first read Abigail Thomas' work several years ago in the literary journal, "Glimmer Train." I never forgot those stories: smart, funny, real, brilliant. And her new book held up to that standard. I read it in one day. I just couldn't put it down. It was like a box of chocolates--I kept thinking, okay just one more...each "chapter" is very short, each packed with intelligence, grace, love. This is a great book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By millicentsomer on December 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
A life told in pastiche, favoring small moments of telling quietness over the Big Events that feature in most memoirs. Divorces and births are passed over with little comment, but scenes from marriages and parenthood and the friendships that persist after marriage ends are beautifully rendered.

Thomas shifts point of view, sometimes telling a piece in first person, sometimes in third. Her sister makes occasional appearances in the book, "correcting" Thomas and questioning her motives. The book jumps back and forth in time, and part of the pleasure of reading it is encountering the life in the order that makes most sense to its author, and piecing together the chronology as you go along.

Very short sections, nicely managed. Almost a collection of prose poems.
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