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Welcome to the Great Mysterious Hardcover – September 12, 2000


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New Adult Fiction by Rainbow Rowell
Acclaimed author Rainbow Rowell's latest book, Landline, offers a poignant, humorous look at relationships and marriage. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st edition (September 12, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345438817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345438812
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,938,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the popular author of Patty Jane's House of Curl and The Tall Pine Polka comes a funny, heartwarming novel in which the voice of the self-absorbed Broadway diva Geneva Jordan holds ingratiating charm. It's not Geneva's singing voice that's the magic here, however, but her plainspoken storytelling. At age 48, Geneva is called upon by her twin sister, Ann, to come to her hometown of Deep Lake, Minn., and baby-sit Rich, Ann's 13-year-old son, afflicted with Down's Syndrome. Ann and her husband, Riley, desperately need a vacation, the first one since Rich's birth, so Geneva reluctantly agrees to leave her glamorous life in New York City to care for her nephew for a month. Geneva slips into the role of parental figure with a few minor snags, and she and Rich bond over a box of old toys, where Geneva uncovers a scrapbook she and Ann made as children. Titled The Great Mysterious, the book asks such existential questions as "What is true love?" and "What is the meaning of life?" to which each family member wrote an answer. This diversion motivates Geneva's metamorphosis. Reading the words of her grandmother and parents, she begins to feel the ache of having given up family for her career. Still reeling from a "doublehitterA-heartbreak and menopause" (she had broken up with her Broadway co-star), Geneva forges a special friendship with James, Deep Lake's wise mailman. She does, however, return to New York, where she considers marriage proposals until tragedy strikes a dear friend, forcing her yet again to reevaluate what's important in life. While the plot extends few surprises, Landvik's unpretentious story admirably captures the ups and downs of a small town from the humorous perspective of a big-city star. Agent, Betsy Nolan. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Although she's a Broadway star, self-centered Geneva Jordan has butterflies in her stomach when she (grudgingly) travels to Minnesota to take care of her 13-year-old nephew, Rich, who has Down's syndrome, while her sister and brother-in-law take a month-long vacation in Italy. In addition to being inherently selfish, Geneva is also coping with fast-approaching menopause and a devastating breakup with her costar, Trevor. But staying with Rich proves surprisingly rewarding, especially after they discover a scrapbook Geneva and her sister put together as children, which forces her to confront life, death, and happiness. Of course, it doesn't hurt that she meets James, a concert pianist with a bad case of stage fright (now working as a mailman, much to the shame of his ex-wife). When Geneva returns to New York and her old life, Trevor's reappearance (with an enormous diamond ring) forces her to choose between the two men. It's a no-brainer, yet Landvik's fourth novel is sadly predictable and flat, completely lacking the vigor, delightful characters, and goofy plot that endeared readers (including this reviewer) to her third novel, The Tall Pine Polka (LJ 7/99). Purchase only to meet demand.
-DNancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author



Lorna Landvik is the author of nine novels, including the best-selling PATTY JANE'S HOUSE OF CURL, ANGRY HOUSEWIVES EATING BON BONS, OH MY STARS and the recently self-published MAYOR OF THE UNIVERSE.
Landvik's checkered (but legal) past includes working as a chambermaid in Bavaria, winning a trip to Tahiti as a contestant on '$25,000 Pyramid' (MacGyver was her partner), temping at the Playboy Mansion (it was strictly a clerical position) and walking across the country as a member of The Great Peace March.
She has acted in many theatrical productions, including a half dozen shows she conveniently wrote for herself. Her all-improvised show, PARTY IN THE REC ROOM is a local legend, due in no small part to the margaritas she mixes up onstage.
She is currently working on two novels, one of which is a sequel to her first book. She has one husband and two daughters and lives in the beautiful blue and green state of Minnesota.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Somewhat predictable, a bit of a romance novel feel to it, but well worth it.
Nancy Kaye
I became totally absorbed in the plot and characters of this book and finished it in one day.
Sarah M. Baker
I look forward to reading Landvik's other books as well and am glad I already own them.
Maudeen Wachsmith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Kaye on January 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This isn't "Patty Jane's House of Curl" or "Tall Pine Polka" but it is an ejoyable read. It was the books premise which made me want to read "The Great Mysterious." A very popular, very busy diva on Broadway is reaching middle age, approaching menopause, and recently having been dumped by her boyfriend who has decided he needs a younger woman on his arm, is asked by her sister to babysit for her nephew who has Down Syndrome in a small town in Minnesota. She decides this might be just the thing for her at a time when she feels the need to "get away" and to slow down. Along the way, she finds out what is really important in life with the help of an old notebook she finds......The Great Mysterious. Somewhat predictable, a bit of a romance novel feel to it, but well worth it.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
With Patty Jane's House Of Curl (19 ) and The Tall Pine Polka (1999) Lorna Landvik served laughter, reader satisfaction, and casts of original characters (mostly endearing).
With Welcome To The Great Mysterious we find a stereotypical protagonist, a Broadway actress in her descendency (she is 48!) plus a rather formulaic soap opera plot. And, to ensure a good cry, there is a child with Down syndrome and another with cerebral palsy.
This is not to say that Ms. Landvik has abandoned her trademark humor, it is there but more predictable than surprising.
The Broadway star is Geneva Jordan who has been divorced by Jean-Paul, an irresistible Frenchman who wanted a green card rather than a wife, and dumped by British matinee idol Trevor, "a modern version of Errol flynn and Laurence Olivier." A tad shallow and an admitted diva, she sees "nothing wrong with a little self-aggrandizement." Geneva explains, "There are worse things - a mass murderer, a bigot, a telephone solicitor. And why shouldn't one take privileged treatment as a right?" She is plagued by loneliness, a black fear that she has named "Petunia" in the hope of blunting its powers. And, Geneva is also a fraternal twin.
So, despite a mountain of misgivings, when her sister, Anne, calls with a plaintive SOS Geneva responds. Albeit reluctantly. She heads for Deep Lake, Minnesota, to babysit Rich, her 13-year-old nephew with Down syndrome, while Anne and her husband take their first vacation in as many years.
Once in the middle of Minnesota she meets Ann's best friend, Barb Torgerson, mother of Conrad who has cerebral palsy, and possessor of a frizzy permanent that Geneva's hairdresser "would never have allowed to leave his shop.
Read more ›
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The thing about Lorna Landvik's writing, is that it's not necessarily GREAT literature... but when I read it, I get done and think, that's just what I needed. Her characters become like friends, and the sometimes soap operatic plots are like the soap operas of everyday life. Welcome to the Great Mysterious has this great friendship at its core.... Conrad and Rich's. Their simple love of each other is enviable. It's what holds this book together. Landvik writes about the great mysteries of life - love, death, friendship, family, snow on Halloween... that make me look at my life a tiny bit differently...With a little more awe at all that is there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dianna Setterfield on October 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth book I've read by Lorna Landvik, and I must say that it is my favorite so far! I absolutely loved the storyline. I've never read so much in one day in my entire life! I highly recommend this book with two very enthusiastic thumbs up.
Welcome to the Great Mysterious tells the story of Tony-winning Broadway actress, Geneva Jordan, and her escape from her life. After getting dumped by her co-star and boyfriend, Trevor, Geneva quits her run as Mona Lisa in the Broadway play, Mona, in order to nurse her wounds (and a severe case of menopause!) in peace. However, Geneva's sister, Ann, has other ideas for her vacation -- after 13 years of being a full-time mother to Rich, Ann is finally going to take a month-long vacation with her husband, Riley, and needs Geneva to baby-sit. Which wouldn't be such a bad idea except for the fact that Geneva doesn't know how to baby-sit....
Rich, who has Down's Syndrome, proves to be a beautiful and heartwarming character. I loved the interaction between him and Geneva. Rich has a heart of gold and is funny and sweet and a pleasure to read about. He really stole the whole show for me. Throughout the month, Geneva learns a lot about herself and what is really important, and I loved every second of it! The best so far... I can't wait for more.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Azure on September 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved "Patty Jane's House of Curl" and "Your Oasis on Flame Lake". But what's happened to Lorna's writing? "The Tall Pine Polka" was like a car accident...you don't want to look, but you feel compelled to. The characters in that book were so unbelievable (only a Minnesotan could come up with a movie title like "Ike and Inga"), I had to finish the book to discover how much more conviluted the story would become. But enough of the Polka.
"Welcome to the Great Mysterious" is a slight improvement. The relationship between Conrad and Rich was wonderful, but I just couldn't see this self-indulgent, self-centered "Toast of Broadway" becoming such fast friends with the woman down the street with the bad perm. I don't want to give the plot away, but unlike "Patty Jane" and "Oasis", the story line is predictable, and, like Lite Beer...less filling, but tastes, uh, okay.
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