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A Book of Common Prayer Paperback – International Edition, April 11, 1995
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Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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A Book of Common Prayer is the story of two American women in the derelict Central American nation of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of the country's wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. "Immaculate of history, innocent of politics," she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by Didion, her fate is at once utterly particular and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence.
Top Customer Reviews
The people live in squalor and there are only a few people in this island of the damned who are in fact solvent. The story tells of the tale of an American lady, norteamericana, who comes to the island, for reasons even she herself does not know. Her life has been tragic and strange. Her child becomes an American revolutionary and is involved in the hijacking of a plan from California to Utah. She lives an underground life and has no connection to her parents, whom she rejects socially and economically.
Didion's reporting style writing is almost a perfect match for telling the story of this obscure countries political corruption and the insurgency that exists within. She uses her incredible ability to turn a phrase and then to use it multiple times for an emphasis that is extraordinary in painting the picture of the world about her. Charlotte Douglas has come here to figure out something, but what it is hard to tell. She seems to be adrift in the impoverished lands of Boca Grande which translates to "Big Bay" or also as Didion points out to "Big Mouth."
Those in charge do have big mouths and talk out of both sides of it. There is constantly a strange dance performed by the few landowning ruling class that is constantly trying to shift the balance of power on the island to accommodate their own personal purposes. In the ensuing revolutionary action, Charlotte is actually killed.Read more ›
Grace Tabor, the aforementioned unreliable narrator, is an anthropologist dying of pancreatic cancer. She is also married into the dysfunctional family dictatorship that runs the country. She has set herself the project of constructing a sort of anthropological case study of Charlotte Douglas. But Charlotte is a woman who seems to exist largely in a world of her own. She defies classification within the parameters of what is normal human behavior.
Charlotte has come to Boca Grande for reasons that she hardly seems to understand herself. Her daughter, Marin, is wanted by the FBI in a plane hijacking. She is currently married to a lawyer who represents political radicals. She has an ex-husband who is a) brilliant b) crazy c)Marin's father d) dying e) abusive f) sexually, psychologically, sadistically obsessed with Charlotte.
Tabor's attempt to tell Charlotte's "story" is full of ellipses, lacunas, and empirical facts of dubious provenance. Her own life is similarly full of holes and blind spots. As Tabor says, "I have not been the witness I wanted to be." Though it isn't for lack of trying.
As Boca Grande slouches towards its scheduled revolution, there are signs that forces darker and more ominous than the usual are at work behind the scenes.
Charlotte seems not just willing to die for no particular reason, but to be inviting the catastrophe.
Why?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My college professor Victor Strandberg assigned us this book in a 20th Century American Literature course back in 1995. Read morePublished 13 months ago by PranaMaria
the writing is flawless however I found this to be one of her bleakest books. there are things that a woman should never write about other women.Published 23 months ago by Denise
I first heard of this when I read [book:The End of Your Life Book Club|13414676] . The author's mother loved this book, and I couldn't put that out of my mind. Read morePublished on August 3, 2014 by deesboots
A dear friend loaned this book to me in paperback version and I loved it so much that I ordered it for my new Kindle Fire. Excellent Book!Published on May 4, 2014 by donnamarie
Sad tale that meanders all over the place without getting anywhere. Characters not interesting, except for the ones who are peripheral to the story. Where did they go?Published on April 24, 2014 by Margaret N Economy
My "okay" rating of this book says more about me than about the book, I'm sure. But when I read it, that was the response I had. Read morePublished on December 16, 2013 by Jim in NC
I bought this book because my University was reading it in their book club. I enjoyed it, but it was not what I was expecting. I'm glad that I read it.Published on April 19, 2013 by Helenann Bower