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Customer Review

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Once God glorified us and made us burst with love...", October 22, 2012
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This review is from: Magnificence: A Novel (Hardcover)
I absolutely love reading Lydia Millet! Her fiction brings to me an intimate gift of truth...an intimate gift of transparency that allows me resonance with her characters so that I experience their imagined reality as keenly as I experience my own.

Magnificence: A Novel is her latest gift to me, and yes, I consider it a personal gift. Why? Because once I, like Susan the heroine of this tale, was widowed unexpectedly.

But that is not to say that I necessarily related to Susan's individual circumstances in this novel, for her story is a unique and twisted continuation of the themes of Millet's two previous novels. But what I did identify with in Susan are her meditations on the death of a spouse, on the undying love that keeps us connected to our departed beloved, on the guilt that bubbles up when we are certain (if only in our own mind) that we are to blame for that death, and on the aloneness that is underlaid by our soul-numbing grief and our deepest sense of emptiness.

But Lydia Millet gives us so much more with MAGNIFICENCE. She is a perceptive and funny social critic with a distinctive satirical voice and a precise and masterful eye for detail. With sensitivity and empathy yet non-judgmental authorial distance, Millet allows her characters to narrate the story of themselves and to build on the familiar themes that she has conceived and so flawlessly woven into many of her stories...themes such as damaged life forms, evolution and extinction; marriage, children and parenthood; love, loss and loneliness; aging, preservation of life and death; personal discovery, the state of wonderment and self awareness.

Millet is a compelling and mesmerizing curator of her characters' psyches and the tapestries of their thoughts. With MAGNIFICENCE she ties up the loose transcendent threads she first began spinning in HOW THE DEAD DREAM and GHOST LIGHTS and weaves them into an emotional crescendo wherein each of her characters finds their pathway to self-realization and ultimate glory.

This is the first novel I have ever read that explores the world of taxidermy but I am certain that Lydia Millet is the only author I know who could pull it off and do so this effectively, with such humor, intelligence and prosaic style.

Ultimately what Lydia Millet does with Magnificence: A Novel is to bind her trilogy with How the Dead Dream and Ghost Lights: A Novel and to offer us a closer vision of our modern world and our evolving reality in it. Following a menagerie of characters through three novels she lays bare for all of us to recognize - the inner world of passions and regrets, the uneasy relationship with our damaged planet, and the ancient intimacy with death.

"Once God glorified us and made us burst with love..."
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 24, 2012 4:24:10 PM PDT
Wow, Evie, what a fantastic review! I must read this author and soon. Great, excellent, awesome, wonderful, right on review!

Pam

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 25, 2012 5:47:57 AM PDT
Thank you so much, my dear darlin friend! I truly believe you would connect with Lydia Millet, Pam. She has a marvelous wit that I know you would appreciate, plus she tempers her humor with poignancy. Evie

Posted on Oct 28, 2012 9:55:17 AM PDT
Evie, based on your raves -- and that of another friend -- I fully intend to read Millet, sooner rather than later. She sounds addictive :)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 9:09:20 AM PDT
Thanks, Jill. This trilogy is a good place to start with Millet. You'll like Lydia so much, you'll want to read all of her books! Evie

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 8:47:19 AM PST
Jody says:
Evie: Wonderful Review. (and I'm smiling to see that it is 'you' who wrote this). I've never read anything by Lydia Millet ----but this book sure sounds like a juicy-delicious-book to start with.

Jody

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 6, 2012 4:21:12 AM PST
Well hello there, Jody dear! It's so nice to hear from you again. Thank you for your sweet comment. I am a huge fan of Lydia Millet but she is not really a main stream writer. I know you like poignancy (based on THE ORCHARDIST) but if you also enjoy a little satirical wit with your poignancy, then she's your gal. This book is the third in a trilogy. You don't have to read the first two to appreciate this one but I think it's much better to savor the whole package. (The other two are How the Dead Dream and Ghost Lights: A Novel). Be well. Evie

Posted on Nov 26, 2012 9:44:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 4:07:00 AM PST
Evie, I too loved this trilogy, and this was a perfect topper to end with it.She sure DID make taxidermy interesting and even somewhat mesmerizing! Love Millet, and especially this! I can't wait for her next trilogy . Your super passion peppers the story with hidden charms! Bug

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2012 5:00:27 AM PST
Bug, it is YOU and your sublime reviews of the first two books in this trilogy that I have to thank for turning me on to Lydia in the first place. God, I love her writing! Everything I have read in her oeuvre so far, I simply adore. As typical with me, I haven't reviewed all of her novels that I have read but this one had so much resonance with me, the review practically wrote itself. Thanks for sharing Lydia with me! Evie

Posted on Dec 16, 2012 10:41:41 AM PST
Eric Selby says:
Thanks to your review I ordered the other two novels which I assume I will like and then it will be this one. I am divorced from the mother of my children, but when she died three years ago just before Christmas--it was very sudden--I found myself not only trying to bring comfort to my daughters but also grieving myself. And three years later I still cannot believe she is dead. So I am eager to read these novels. I am an avid reader, so it won't be too long until I get to this third novel. Many thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2012 4:02:05 AM PST
Dear C. E. - I thank you for your comment.

I'm especially glad that my review has prompted you to get the Lydia Millet trilogy. She is such a great writer; I can't understand why she doesn't have a larger following.

As for the loss of your ex-spouse, I'm sorry for yours and your daughters' pain. I think you will find much resonance with this trilogy and with this part in particular. It's a fresh way to reconsider grief and I think it will help you feel a little better.

I have not reviewed the first two parts of the trilogy but my friend Switterbug just above here in comments has and she has done so brilliantly. You might want to scroll through her reviews and find How the Dead Dream and Ghost Lights for more insight. Bug writes great reviews.

I wish you well, C. E., and hope you find some comfort from your reading. Take care,
Evie
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Location: Bradenton, Florida

Top Reviewer Ranking: 339