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Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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"Backdropped by the Vietnam War and the Manson murders, cruel BeautifulWorld is a fast-moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and themalignity of power. Leavitt explores with a keen eye the intersection of love, family, and the anxiety of an era."
-- Lily King, author of Euphoria
Leavitt's most accomplished book yet, Cruel Beautiful World, is a seamless triumph of storytelling."
--Gail Godwin, author of Flora
"With Cruel, Beautiful World, Caroline Leavitt has done the seemingly impossible: she's written a gorgeous, seductive novel that is also terrifying and pulse-pounding. This is the kind of coming-of-age novel for which readers yearn: we witness the emotional and spiritual evolution a sixteen-year-old girl while American society, in the early 1970s, seems to devolve all around her. Like the era it represents, Cruel, Beautiful World is at times hopeful and nihilistic, beautiful and savage, mesmerizing and dangerous."
--Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy
"Breathtaking. . . Leavitt has spun a masterful web of seduction and loyalty, infatuation and love. . . It is hard to read this novel and not think of Lolita and of Dan Chaon's psychological thriller, Await Your Reply. . . poignant and complex. "
--Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace
"A stunning novel about life, real life, the sort in which mistakes can bring unfair consequences and family loyalty is a source of tremendous grace. Leavitt is a magician at creating unforgettable characters, and the two sisters at the heart of this tale will stay with me in all their complicated humanity. A brave book, and a powerfully moving one."
--Robin Black, author of Life Drawing
"BookBrowse members who've been reading this for First Impressions love, love, love this book. Expect her to reach "overnight sensation" withCruel Beautiful World." --BookBrowse: Ten of the most anticipated Fall titles
"Riveting tale that will raise your own heartbeat, too." --Steph Opitz, Marie Claire
"A mesmerizing story about love, family, and obsession."
Pop Sugar, one of 23 books you must read this Fall. --Brenda Janowitz
"Cruel Beautiful World hits the sweet-spot between popular and literaryfiction with finely honed writing, complexity of character motives, andenough guilt and secrecy to sustain the page-turning suspense." --CarolBrill, New York Journal of Books
"Deeply resonant and quietlypowerful, Cruel Beautiful World has the heart-pounding moments of athriller and the heart-warming moments of a perfect coming-of-agestory." --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads Shelf Awareness
"In very definite clear ways, Cruel Beautiful World is Nabokov rewritingTheodore Dreiser with a screenplay by Igmar Bergman." --Hubert O'Hearn,By the Book Reviews
This haunting examination of the duty we have to family--and the irreparable consequences we abandon it." --Working Mother
"Caroline's signature style ..pulls apart everyday lives and finds the deeperstories in them by getting into her characters' hearts and heads." --Bookreporter, Carol Fitzgerald
"Nuanced and engrossing." -People Magazine
"A seductive page-turner that ripples with an undercurrent of suspense and is fueled by the foibles of the human heart." -The Boston Globe, Karen Campbell
"Leavitt excels at the nuanced relationships..and the shifting loves and loyalties..layers of complexity and vulnerability." --The San Francisco Chronicle, S. Kirk Walsh
"A moving novel about three women connected by fate and a spate of tragic deaths. Leavitt expertly draws us into the lives of her stormy characters and deftly narrates their coming of age in a world in which women's roles are changing. As Emma Cline did in "The Girls", Leavitt draws on the mystifying mindset of the girls who blindly followed Manson. She conveys a clear-eyed understanding of Lucy's subjugation to William and his ability to control her. And she perfectly executes Lucy's Lolita-like story, injecting it with a kind of claustrophobic atmosphere reminiscent of Emma Donoghue's "Room." -The Washington Post, Carole Memmott
"Leavitt brings to life the chaotic days of Viet Nam protests and the Manson murders as the setting for a complex story of the relationship between two sisters and a predatory teacher. The result is a captivating, timely-feeling thriller." Elizabeth Taylor, 5 Hot Books, -The National Book Review
"Leavitt's 11th novel will keep you captivated." - Real Simple, The Best Ten Books to Read this Month
"A devastating picture of how love hits its target..an exploration of how love can impel one to terrible depths and lofty heights. A devastating portrayal of how at any age, we alone are responsible for how we let our love for the people in our live affect us. Too few books truly challenge our own hearts, no matter how hard they may aim for it; Cruel Beautiful World hits its target." - Wendeline O. Wright, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
From the Author
When I was 17, a friend of mine was murdered by her much older, more controlling boyfriend--someone she had been with for five years. I never forgot it, but until I was in a controlling relationship of my own years later (Google my story "The Grief Diet,") I couldn't understand how someone could stay. I set the novel in 1969 and 1970, the time when the peace and love movement began to turn ugly, when Woodstock turned into Altamont and the Manson murders. The novel is so much about how we yearn to fix things and fix people, but sometimes we cannot, no matter how hard we try. Sometimes all you can do is step back and let life wash over you. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Set against the backdrop of the sixties–the Vietnam War, communes, and the Manson Murders, CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD is the story of sixteen-year-old Lucy who runs away with a much older man to live in hiding in rural Pennsylvania. Her older sister, Charlotte. Charlotte, who has had much of the burden of Lucy’s care throughout their childhood, now has to manage tracking down her sister, which leads to an aftermath that no one, including and especially the reader, could foresee.
Caroline Leavitt is the author of ten other novels, two of which– Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You, are NYT bestsellers. Cruel, Beautiful World I’m sure will be her next. The story is wrenching and intricate, the characters so believable that they might have lived next door to you. And the prose is so alive that each sentence lures you to the next.
From the opening sentence, I was pulled immediately into a vividly painted story world filled with both color and darkness alike. The entire opening of the book had me in suspense, as I followed these characters down the twists and turns of an elaborately crafted and unpredictable plot.
Leavitt demonstrates her literary prowess as she examines the complexities of love, loss, family, fear, violence, and the uncertainty of it all. She is skilled at drawing the reader into the scene, as if watching a movie set. My imagination was exploding into a kaleidoscope of detailed images and riveting dialogue, as these characters—and their stories—materialized before my eyes.
My advice: Prepare to sit on the edge of your seat and don’t bother trying to guess what is coming next. This is the page-turner you’ve been waiting for.
Most recent customer reviews
Lucy, 16 and naive, runs away with her High School teacher.Read more