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The Generosity of Women Hardcover – June 2, 2009


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"Sisters of Heart and Snow"
The award-winning author of How to Be an American Housewife returns with a poignant story of estranged sisters, forced together by family tragedy, who soon learn that sisterhood knows no limits. See more from Margaret Dilloway
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (June 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015101101X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151011018
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,612,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Eldridge's first novel (after the collection Unkempt) grinds its sparse plot into the ground by revisiting the same incidents over and over again from the points of view of six women. Joyce, one of New York's most successful and controversial art dealers, and Bobbie, a gynecologist who sometimes performs abortions, have been friends since college. But their friendship is sorely tested by the events of one long weekend when Bobbie's adopted daughter, Adela, arrives in New York to meet Paul, her mother's new boyfriend, and to reveal some secrets of her own. At the same time, new mother Lisa, one of Joyce's former assistants, helps her older sister, Lynne, after Lynne's teenage daughter, Jordan, goes to Bobbie for an abortion. The rotating first-person narration underscores the characters' profound narcissism, but the gaggle of voices becomes tiresome as it moves among the women's self-centered ruminations and justifications of their questionable behavior. The way Eldridge obscures the story's critical details until the waning pages feels manipulative, while how she repeatedly explores the periphery of a few key events is, at best, tedious. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Six women tell their interconnected stories, in their own voices. At first, the snippets come too quickly to keep track of the different characters, but as the book progresses, each character becomes clear and her story compelling. Joyce and Bobbie are lifelong best friends and dedicated professionals. Their friendship and Bobbie’s ob-gyn practice stand at the hub of the story’s wheel. When Bobbie’s daughter, Adela, confesses to an almost unforgivable transgression, the women must struggle to keep their friendship and their relationship with Adela. Meanwhile, perfect suburban mom Lynne’s facade is slowly cracking as her teenage daughter Jordan struggles with her own identity. Lynne’s once-wayward sister, now a new mom, ties the two plotlines together. Giving each woman her own voice has some mixed results. For example, Lynne and Lisa are clearly defined, but Jordan’s teenspeak quickly wears thin. Still, most readers will find someone to identify with in this perfect book-club read. --Marta Segal Block

Customer Reviews

Unfortunately, it is hard to care about the characters in this book.
Laura
The story was not told in a linear fashion, but instead, jumped around not only in character viewpoint but also from place to place and time to time.
dSavannah George-Jones
I ended up not finishing this book --it just took a lot more effort than I wanted to give in order to read it.
Atomicwasteland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Krisilou VINE VOICE on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Generosity of Women is a novel that follows the lives of a group of neurotic, confused, and fragmented New York City women. Each has a unique voice and compelling story, and the novel is told using each voice as a separate narrator. First of all, let me say that I normally enjoy novels with multiple narrators; however, Courtney Eldridge's novel takes the concept a bit too far. The narrators shift so rapidly that it takes quite a bit of time to really get a grasp on who they are and what they're about. Just when I would think that I was getting somewhere with one character/narrator, the narrative would shift to another. Keep in mind that I'm not talking about pages here; I'm talking about paragraphs. I guess this style of writing is supposed to mirror the constant camera angle shifts found within other types of media, but it does not appeal to me. The concept is refreshing, but it somehow misses the mark.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mad Ethyl Flint VINE VOICE on September 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
But I couldn't finish the book. The description already tells you that the book is about 4 women friends, although it doesn't really seem to me they are really friends, and their interactions.

I couldn't finish this book because it's written in dialogue. Like listening to half a phone conversation or someone talking to a psychiatrist. The book goes back and forth with these dialogues that tell the story. But so far I haven't been able to find a real story and the characters bored me.

This might have been a good book had it been written differently, but as it is, I became bored pretty quickly.

Thank you.
MEF

If this type of writing appeals to you, then you may like this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maudeen Wachsmith VINE VOICE on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I love books dealing with women and their friendships. And when I read the blurb for this book I thought it would be the book for me. However the reality of reading (or attempting to read) this book was tedious and awkward. While I usually love alternating points of view, in previous books each chapter has been from a different POV. In this book we have the characters of Joyce, Robbie, Lisa, Lynne, Jordan, and Adela changing every paragraph. It's hard enough to keep six women straight without further confusing the situation in this manner. And there were no quotation marks (I have seen this before in books attempting to be more "literary") and that threw me off as well. In the end, I gave it my 50-100 page test and it was so unengaging, I didn't even care to skim the last 250 pages as I will sometimes. It is beyond me how some books get published. Obviously her agent and editor enjoyed it and thought it would sell, but this one just isn't one I'd recommend.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This Review is based on an Advance Reading Copy of the yet-to-be-published paperback...

Joyce and Bobbie have been friends for more than 30 years. Joyce is a brash, outspoken, often very inappropriately crude curator of an art gallery, and Bobbie is an OB/GYN with a successful practice in the city. They share a complicated relationship with each other (think love-hate), and a deep affection for Bobbie's adopted daughter, Adela. The novel opens with Joyce (in process of a bitter divorce) playing matchmaker for never-married Bobbie, who is ambivalent about romance.

Their story, and the stories of Lisa, Lynne and Lynne's daughter, Jordan, are all told through first person narrative. It takes skill to pull off such a format for a novel, and I almost gave this four stars, because Ms. Eldredge pulls it off without having the characters sound too much alike. Unlike other reviews here, I think her first person narrative told through six different women was skillfully spot-on. I would agree that lack of traditionally gramatical paragraphs and dialog slow the pace of reading, but didn't find that discouraging. It seemed like a fresh, unique approach. Something unusual. Unexpected.

Back to the storyline...

Bobbie finds love, early on in the novel, with kind, persistant, Paul, who accepts her and treats her with a tenderness she hasn't thusfar experienced. As a busy doctor, it takes a special man to deal with her sometime irregular hours; playfully, Bobbie's new beau tries to encourage her to relax more and ease up on herself. Bobbie is often too available to her patients, particularly those grappling with the issue of abortion. I personally haven't known any doctors like that, though admittedly, I never had or was in the position to have an abortion.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like snippets of conversation, the story in The Generosity of Women is revealed; instead of peeling away the layers to expose the inner core, this tale of the connections between women seems to "unfold," as it were, by adding layers of details--and doing so by retelling the same events from different perspectives.

Each segment bears one woman's name; that woman details events in the first person narrative, speaking her own individual "truth" in an exchange with one or two other individuals.

The women are Joyce, an art curator; Roberta (Bobbie), a gynecologist; Lisa, a patient with a troubled history; Lynne, Lisa's sister, a woman with secret betrayals lurking in her past; Jordan, Lynne's teenage daughter; and Adela, the twenty-three year old adopted daughter of Bobbie.

Amidst this cast of rather compelling individuals, the men play out their roles almost like secondary characters, and yet the mating dance is a central theme, as the tale is gradually woven, thread by thread, toward the final curtain call.

In many ways, I found the writer's style confusing, or even off-putting...she repeated the same incidents over and over, but viewed from each person's perspective. Sometimes, it was difficult to pinpoint time and place--did these events happen over a very short period of time, or was the time/space continuum shifting because of how elusive memory can be?

Perhaps this is a book that should be read in one sitting. I found it disturbingly difficult to keep my "place" in the series of events, and had to reread and scramble to discover just where I was each time I resumed the story.
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More About the Author

Courtney Eldridge is the author of Unkempt, a collection of short stories, and The Generosity of Women, a novel. She has received fellowships from the Edward F. Albee Foundation, the Ucross Foundation, and was awarded the Prix du Marais literary prize for Record à battre, the French translation of her first novella, "The Former World Record Holder Settles Down." Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including McSweeney's, New York Times Magazine, BOMB, Whitewall Magazine, Another Man and Opening Ceremony Annual.

In 2013, she will serve as a National Writing Juror for the Scholastic Art and Writing Award for the third year in a row, and in June, her young adult novel, Ghost Time, the first of a trilogy, will be published by Amazon Publishing. She lives in Los Angeles and is now at work on a screenplay and the sequel to Ghost Time.

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