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Where She Went Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (December 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140283633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140283631
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,792,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Paris, Niagara Falls, Tokyo, Rochester, Norfolk, Istanbul: Where She Went's table of contents reads like an itinerary for a nervous breakdown. The mother and daughter narrators of these interlinked stories cover a lot of ground, but they never seem to get particularly far. A quote from the Elizabeth Bishop poem "Questions of Travel" sets the stage: "Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?/Where should we be today?" Marion's travels are as a "company wife," packing and unpacking the same boxes in what comes to seem like the same house reproduced all over the globe. Marrying young to a man she scarcely knows, she's determined that her daughter will enjoy all the freedoms life has to offer, including and especially travel: "You must keep me abreast of everything, darling.... This is our world tour."

And Rebecca does, in a sense. The stories in the book's latter half revolve around a series of postcards, highly fictionalized snapshots of her travels that make it seem she's living out her mother's dream. Much like her mother, however, Rebecca voyages far and wide but gets nowhere. These are subtle, understated stories, domestic dioramas couched in luminous prose. Of the book's two halves, it's Marion's stories that are the more compelling, combining vivid evocations of place and time with a firm sense of character. Rebecca's stories feel less grounded--which is, presumably, the point. Still, they make for occasionally disorienting reading, with long stretches of stunning imagery in seeming free fall. But it's hard not to find yourself beguiled by Kate Walbert's prose, with its richly textured surfaces and sinuous rhythms. As a debut collection, Where She Went promises great things for where she will go. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Moving through a series of slow-motion vignettes, Walbert's meticulous, unshakably sad collection of linked stories provides glimpses into the lives of two women: one condemned by her husband's career to wander from one middle-sized American city to another; the other her daughter, who takes a series of European vacations in the doomed hope of living up to her mother's dreams of fun and romance. Trapped in a conventional, 36-year-old marriage, "hollowed out" by depression after the cradle death of her second child, passionate Marion Clark imagines a world of glamour through the postcards and letters of her first and only surviving child. The distinction between traveling for pleasure and traveling by necessity is analogous to other distinctions between the lives and opportunities of mother and daughter. As Marion once did, 30-something Rebecca goes to New York in search of love and success, but without the husband-hunting sense of purpose that guided so many working women of the 1950s. Aimless and melancholy compared to her mother, Rebecca glides from one lonely, lazy affair to another before drifting into marriage (she asks for a divorce on her honeymoon), wishing all the while that she could live up to her mother's expectations of the "adventurous" life. Sometimes these enigmatic stories are precious and overworked, straining toward a hush of despair. At their more frequent best, however, they resonate with surprising pathos, and these moments establish Walbert as one of the season's most promising, idiosyncratic new writers.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Kate Walbert is the author of Where She Went, a New York Times Notable Book of 1998; The Gardens of Kyoto, winner of the Connecticut Book Award for fiction in 2002; and Our Kind, finalist for the National Book Award in 2004. Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, and numerous other publications. She lives in New York City and Connecticut with her family.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Frank Williams on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
No one writing today surpasses Kate Walbert in beauty of style. I think the 'editorial reviews' miss the point in judging the later stories in this volume. What they perceive as 'disjointed narrative' is actually a master painting emotions and events using an economy of brushstrokes in carefully interlaced fashion. Criticizing her for this technique reminds me of the academicians in Paris who couldn't comprehend the Impressionists. The story "1980 Florence" is a true masterpiece. I recommend Walbert heartily to any readers who want to experience the very best in contemporary writing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Where She Went shines in part because the subject is so expertly handled in a genre ( the mother-daughter story) that often falls back on stereotypes. Its rare when you find a novel that is true and a pleasure to read. Where She Went, is even a bigger treat -- it spans the lives of two women - a mother and a daughter, but it is never sappy and the story is always original. It unravels the intricacies of their lives and their problems -- seeing each woman as a person even while they are seeing each other in the roles their families have prescribed. The insight and clarity into this family is neither hokey nor predictable. A totally great read. I loved this book and highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 31, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is a great collection of stories that reads like a novel. A mother and daughter adjust their lives in different ways to accomodate constant corporate moves. As the reader you become sympathetic to the mother and curoius about the daugher. The writing is extraordinarily well crafted. I really recommend it!
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