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Spinsters (High Risk Books) Paperback – June 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: High Risk Books
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; Reprint edition (June 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424053
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,728,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Hero to millions of over-educated hipsters, Pagan Kennedy has produced zines, short stories, a semi-autobiography, and this novel, a tiny gem that disappoints only because it is too short. Fran and Dora, two aspiring spinsters who leave the home of their recently deceased father to search out elderly aunts in need of a codependant relationship, discover the youth culture of the late '60s as they drive across America. Coming to terms with the fact that they are not yet old enough to live out their fantasy life of quiet, feminine obsolescence, the two react in contradictory ways to the radical social change that they had failed to notice in their tiny New Hampshire hometown. Kennedy weaves political and personal history together in her extremely fluid prose, producing a work that is swift and moving, leaving the reader wanting more.

From Publishers Weekly

Kennedy's (Stripping and Other Stories) thoroughly delightful story of two road-tripping spinster sisters out to discover themselves will appeal to all but die-hard cynics. Frannie and Doris, both in their 30s, find their lives opening up in strange new ways once their father, to whom they sacrificed their young adulthoods, dies. On the road from Virginia to Arizona, Doris, always the popular, pretty one in high school, wants to party, while the more awkward narrator, Frannie, is still shy about men, having had her heart broken long ago. The story of Frannie's sexual awakening unfolds through her gently ironic narrative, which is filled with clever metaphors (her "curls [were] stiff as meringue") and is both innocent and self-aware ("that night I had a strange dream. It started off as any spinster's dream world, with worries about change lost and trains missed. But suddenly it shifted"). Effectively set against the backdrop of the late '60s?the murder of Martin Luther King Jr., the Vietnam War, the '68 Democratic convention?these two charismatic characters change and evolve in ways that reflect the nation's metamorphosis. While some readers may object to Frannie's selfhood emerging through sexual feelings for a man, such criticism is ultimately shallow, as this creative, witty and subtly adventuresome character is able to treat her sexual coming-of-age as yet another wonderful discovery in an unpredictable, quirky world.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 26, 1996
Format: Paperback
At the risk of sounding too Forrest Gump-ish, I would have
to say that "Spinsters" is like a box of chocolates. Each
chapter is a perfect little world, and when you finish one
you stop and say to yourself "Oh, I think I'll have just one
more." Before you know it the book is finished, and you sit
there, completely satisfied, but unsure as to exactly what
you have just consumed. So you stop for a moment, and like
remembering a particularly yummy nougat or macadadamia nut
center, you recall wonderfully realized moments, and smile
as each new memory of these characters, who have become a
part of your life, plays across the pleasure centers of your
brain. This book, like a box of chocolates, is deceptively
simple. As you bite into each chapter the chocolate is only
a facade covering the creamy, sweet inviting centers that
await with each page turn. But best of all reading this
book is an absolutely fat-free experience. All of the
pleasure, none of the guilt.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'd heard the buzz about Pagan Kennedy, so I figured I'd grab this and see what the fuss was all about. Set in 1968, the book is about two 30-something sisters who embark on a cross-country road trip following the death of their father, who've they've been caring for. It's more or less a belated coming of age tale for Frannie, the virgin of the two, as she gradually sheds her safe life and appearance. Although there are a couple of nice lines ("My mother understood longing better than love.") it didn't strike me as anything special and didn't enthuse me to pursue anything else by Kennedy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is absolutely lovely, witty, and insightful. At first I was drawn into by the dead-on descriptions of New England -- houses, people, places -- which made me homesick; then I was utterly absorbed in the story -- simple (in the way only really well-crafted writing can be), subtle, and a great read. I recommended it to my book club (which means I happily got to reread it) and all eight members agreed it was the best pick of the year! (I was kind of surprised, because we never agree on anything, but apparently this book's wonderful story and writing have universal appeal.) Truly a gem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Sullivan on July 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
The day after Martin Luther King Jr is assassinated, Dora and Frannie's father, passes away after a long illness. Shortly after, the sisters receive an invitation from their Aunt Katherine to live with her.
Living with their Aunt and her black maid Letty proves unfulfilling to the sisters. They decide to visit other relatives and this ultimately results in a road trip through America's Southern states.
As is evident from my above rating this novella (its word count is only some 63000 words) is not something I could easily recommend.
It is an agreeable and easy read but this only damns the novella with faint praise. I found the book lacking in subtlety and depth. The motifs, allusions and symbols are writ large. The pacifist Martin Luther King Jr is killed while the next day the World War II conscientious objector father of Dora and Frannie dies. America is going through huge changes and turmoil; the Vietnam War, the anti war riots, the race riots, women's liberation. These changes will irrevocably alter the country, politically, socially and culturally. America's Baby Boomers were attempting to rip the country from the hands of the pre World War II old guard and pull the country into a modern world. These events are mirrored, in a smaller way of course, in the lives of the sisters. Dora is outgoing, sexually active, gregarious and believes in a brighter future. Frannie on the other hand is old fashioned, strait laced and clings to the past and its apparent certitude.
They drive through Texas but decide not to stop in this particular state due to the oppressive heat. Of course, even five years on the sound of bullets can still be heard reverberating around the Lone Star state.
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