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Small Acts of Sex and Electricity Paperback – September 5, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A lyrical, earnest second novel from Haines (after In My Sister's Country) portrays two women whose love for the same man challenges their lifelong friendship. Set at a Southern California beach house, the action erupts when Jane, having inherited the house from her recently deceased grandmother Franny, decides to leave her husband, Mike, and two daughters in the care of her best friend from childhood, Mattie, now a fine-arts appraiser in Chicago. The women attended the same Boston university, where Mattie first fell for Mike, before the more glamorous and determined Jane swept him away and married him. Presently in their mid-30s, the women essentially trade places over the course of several weeks, as Jane takes off to pick up men and have adventures, leaving Mattie to make sense of Franny's extensive estate of artworks, assuage the fears of Jane and Mike's two young daughters and fall in love with Mike all over again. Jane's self-absorption is beyond the pale, and Mattie's skittish neediness is touching, in this spacey, sexy summer read. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Thirtysomething Chicago art appraiser Mattie is back in Santa Barbara, where she met Jane when they were girls, to help sort through the many objets d'artin the old beach house, sold now that Jane's grandmother is dead. One dawning, Jane drives off in the 40-year-old Jaguar, leaving her uninformed husband and daughters to Mattie, who, secretly in love with Mike for years, never saw this coming despite a self-proclaimed gift for premonition. Jane calls the next day to blithely say the Jag needs towing, and she'll be visiting "a very large Paul Bunyan monument I want to see." Though or because Mattie possesses the "particular deficit of emotion to move freely through other people's lives" that is so necessary in her profession, in mere hours Mattie and Mike are making love in the bed he'd shared with Jane. Haines skillfully uses flashbacks and rapid-fire dialogue to make and keep things credible as Mattie takes over Jane's life in this oddly compelling tale of loss . . and losing detachment. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books (September 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932961437
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932961430
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,570,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

SEE THE BOOK TRAILER AT:

WWW.LISEHAINES.COM


See the booktrailer at:


www.lisehaines.com


SEE THE BOOKTRAILER AT:


WWW.LISEHAINES.COM





Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mid thirties Jane and Mattie have been best friends since childhood, but during college they competed for the affection of Michael with the former easily winning the prize and marrying him. Jane and Michael have two daughters, teenage Livvy and preadolescent Mona. To Mattie's envious eye Jane has everything with her California family while she remains single in the Midwest.

When Jane inherits a house and a Jaguar from her recently deceased grandmother Franny, she decides to take the car and leave her family behind to seek glamour and men not spouses and children. She assigns her visiting pal Mattie to inform Mike that she left him and their kids. Mattie, who came to appraise Franny's art collection, becomes surrogate mother and wife in Chicago while Jane seeks adventuress men.

SMALL ACTS OF SEX AND ELECTRICITY is a strange but entreating relationship drama starring two women, me-me Jane and envious Mattie. They sort of switch places as Mattie, feeling as if she is IN MY SISTER'S COUNTRY, gets a chance to see what could have been if Mike chose her and Jane seizes the opportunity to find out what should have been if she stayed carefree and single. Fans of odd but perceptive family dramas will appreciate Lisa Haines' unusual character driven tale.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karen K. Lewis on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Mattie, the 30-something narrator of Small Acts, returns to her childhood environs of Santa Barbara, where she's tempted to switch places with her once-best friend Jane. Jane seems to have it all: perfect husband, two daughters, beach house, material luxury.

This novel explores the solitudes we build for ourselves even within the electricity of a sizzling love affair. The storyteller reveals a present inner world tangled with flashback, using cinematic bursts of exquisite prose.

Small Acts contains many scenes to savor like an assortment of epicurean chocolates: some unexpectedly spiced, others melt-in-the-mouth--an alluring variety of secrets between layers.

If you have ever wondered about the road not taken, and found yourself at that crossroads, again...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By carrie nakamura on November 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. As a reader I loved the flow of the story and the many precise, surprising details. Vivid images like the descriptions of the little girl Mona spinning in a circle, and Franny's wonderful collection of shoes kept me reading. But as a therapist I loved how this book captured the messy, uneven, disturbing experiences of life. The children's experience of loss when their mother Jane takes off echoes the narrator Mattie's experience of loss when her neglectful parents leave Mattie to fend for herself as a kid. There are lots of details that resonate like this. Also the book is set in California--one of my favorite places. I highly recommend.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lane Stewart on November 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
No one writes like Lise Haines. She creates characters of amazing complexity and tells their stories with sheer lyricism. This novel enchants, surprises, and redeems. The characters are real, with all-too-familiar human frailties. Haines is brilliant in her character portrayal of Mattie, whose borrowed life finally becomes authentically her own. Many thanks to a fine author whose transcendent talent teaches many lessons!
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