- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (August 8, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 161620737X
- ISBN-13: 978-1616207373
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 128 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #538,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Cruel Beautiful World: A Novel Paperback – August 8, 2017
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Backdropped by the Vietnam War and the Manson murders, Cruel Beautiful World is a fast-moving page-turner about the naivete of youth and the malignity of power. Leavitt explores with a keen eye the intersection of love, family, and the anxiety of an era.
Lily King, author of Euphoria
Tender and tragic, with a shooting star of hope, Leavitt's profound latest is about the connections of siblings, the mystery of love first, last and dangerous and the struggle to accept what can never be changed. Sara Gruen, author of At the Water s Edge
"WithCruel, 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 Worldis at times hopeful and nihilistic, beautiful and savage, mesmerizing and dangerous." Wiley Cash, New York Timesbestsellingauthor ofA Land More Kind Than HomeandThis Dark Road to Mercy
Two sisters impulsive Lucy and sensible Charlotte make decisions that will haunt the rest of their lives. Set in the tumultuous late 1960s and early 1970s, CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD is a riveting novel about love and loss, secrets and lies, and what it means to be a family. Its twists and turns will keep you reading late into the night. Christina Baker-Kline, author of Orphan Train
Leavitt's most accomplished book yet, Cruel Beautiful World, is a seamless triumph of storytelling that follows an unusual family through a fraught and shapeshifting century. The edges and complications of their individual natures lead them towards fatal or redeemable choices. Some make it and some do not in this cruel, beautiful world. Gail Godwin, author of Flora
I was mesmerized by Caroline Leavitt s new, breathtaking novel. She has spun a masterful web of seduction and loyalty, infatuation and love. At the same time Leavitt reveals how porous the line can be between truth and lies and how so much that happens between us is a matter of perspective. It is hard to read this novel and not think of Lolita and also of Dan Chaon s psychological thriller, Await Your Reply.But this is more than a dark tale of predator and his victim. It is also about family and friendship, of sisters and that ties that bind.And in this end this poignant and complex novel is a story about how we tell stories and the narratives that become our lives. Mary Morris, author of The Jazz Palace
At once a page-turner that leaves you holding your breath, and a gorgeous meditation on love and family. Cruel Beautiful World had me in its thrall from start to finish. J. Courtney Sullivan, author of The Engagements
Cruel Beautiful Worldis 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
Fierce and tender at once, Cruel Beautiful Worldflames with the sweetness of new love, smolders with bitterregret, and burns with all the mistakes in between. Peopled with gorgeously flawed characters, Caroline Leavitt's newest novel is a wonder of triumph and tragedy. Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author ofBittersweetandJune"
Leavitt paints her characters with deep flaws and yet hugely redeeming qualities. The writing is rich and real and provocative. Her literary momentum shows no signs of slowing." Ginny Greene, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Cruel Beautiful World hits the sweet-spot between popular and literary fiction with finely honed writing, complexity of character motives, and enough guilt and secrecy to sustain the page-turning suspense." Carol Brill, New York Journal of Books
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
"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. 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 exploration of how love can impel one to terrible depths and lofty heights. . 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.
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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.
This is one of those books that you just fall into, and are loathe to leave.
The love between the two sisters Lucy and Charlotte and their 'adopted mother' Iris are so special that it is difficult to distinguish between maternal and sisterly love. Then their family is ripped apart. Patrick and Vera's beautiful marriage is also torn by death, making the regret, pain, and forgiveness palpable.
These are cruel stories in the time of Manson murder, Vietnam War, that may happen to a neighbor next door, told beautifully by the master storyteller Caroline Leavitt.
I was lucky to get my Kindle copy before the hardcopy is released. I highly recommend this novel.