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George and Lizzie: A Novel Hardcover – September 5, 2017
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GEORGE AND LIZZIE is a fresh, sweet, funny, and completely charming love story between two people, two families, and two unlikely paths in life, which somehow find their way to each other. To read this novel is to see family, love, and life in a new light.
(Lisa Scottoline, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
As sparkling as Prosecco, as jubilantly quirky and inventive a love story as you could ever want, and a jigsaw puzzle you never want to finish. If I could marry a novel, this wise, witty and rapturously inventive book would be it. (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of CRUEL BEAUTIFUL WORLD and PICTURES OF YOU)
Nancy Pearl understands the desperate, confused, needy heart that beats under the surface of even the most dysfunctional of relationships, and exposes it with wit and genuine love. Oh, and you’ll never think about football the same way again. (Katherine Heiny, author of SINGLE, CAREFREE, MELLOW and STANDARD DEVIATIONS)
GEORGE AND LIZZIE overflows with humor and heart, with quirks and eccentricities, with unforgettable characters….Her story daringly and playfully jumbles time and convention, gathering heft and humor as it unfolds. The end result is an irresistible debut by a born storyteller.
(Jim Lynch, author of Before the Wind)
Read GEORGE AND LIZZIE. This smart novel has a smashing premise, an engaging cast of characters, and a voice that propels you from first page to last with its wit, insight into secrets, families, and football, and its unrelenting energy. (Stephen McCauley, author of THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION and MY EX-LIFE)
GEORGE AND LIZZIE is an unusual story about a marriage, except that really it’s a story about growing up, except that really it’s a story about a cast of uncommon, bewitching characters I could have happily read about for a month. It’s smart, funny, warmly sketched, cleverly put together, engagingly told, and sums to something wonderful and unexpected. I will be recommending it unrelentingly to everyone I know.
(Laurie Frankel, author of THIS IS HOW IT ALWAYS IS)
Pearl dramatizes a complicated and deeply illuminating union of opposites and conducts profound inquiries into the self, family, empathy, and love. The result is a charming, edgy, and many faceted novel of penetrating humor and resonant insight.
(Donna Seaman Booklist (starred review))
“Nancy Pearl has long been a bright light in the literary world—what a delight to bask in the glow of her debut novel. GEORGE AND LIZZIE is a richly absorbing portrait of a perfectly imperfect marriage; a wryly observed story of family, love, and absurdity; and a deft consideration of the moments that shadow and shape our lives, and just might take on lives of their own.” (Amy Poeppel, author of SMALL ADMISSIONS)
About the Author
Nancy Pearl is known as “America’s Librarian.” She speaks about the pleasures of reading at library conferences, to literacy organizations and community groups throughout the world and comments on books regularly on KUOW FM in Seattle, as well as KWGS in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Wisconsin Public Radio. Born and raised in Detroit, she received her master’s degree in library science in 1967 from the University of Michigan. She also received an MA in history from Oklahoma State University in 1977. Among her many honors and awards are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal; and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. She also hosts a monthly television show, Book Lust with Nancy Pearl. She lives in Seattle with her husband.
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George and Lizzie are a mismatched couple in an unlikely relationship. George is a dentist who grew up in a warm and loving family. "Lizzie grew up as the only child of two famous psychologists, who viewed her more as an in-house experiment than a child to love." In their marriage George is happy; Lizzie isn't.
All I can say is: Run George, run!
George is a genuinely nice man. Lizzie is genuinely not a nice woman, or even remotely sympathetic.
Pearl lost me right at the beginning with Lizzie planning The Great Game, where the "game" is to have sex with all 23 starters of her high school football team, one per week. There is no explanation as to why, other than she and a friend thought it would be a "fun" game. The very next day the friend retracts her support and tells Lizzie not to do it, that it isn't a good idea, but Lizzie does it anyway. The secret shame of her actions follows her throughout the book. Setting the "game" aside, George and Lizzie just isn't a very good story or a well-written novel. The plot jumps all over the place, with characters introduced and then abandoned, and interruptions in the story about the football players. It was hard to finish this one, which is never a good sign. I should have abandoned it early on.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Touchstone.
Outside of that their lives are pretty plebeian. Like “Seinfeld” they are always occupied with something-or-other but never anything of consequence. They go to parties, they go shopping, they talk “of things that matter, of words that must be said, can analysis be worthwhile, is the theater really dead.” Then they go off to look for America.
Except for Lizzie’s secret, which she bears like a scarlet A. She spends the bulk of the book pining for a lost boyfriend, unable to face the obvious that he’s moved on. Like Stephanie Plum in the Janet Evanovich books Pearl probably dismisses as “not literature,” Jack becomes Lizzie’s Ranger — much to the annoyance of the reader.
I don’t know if there’s a peculiar myopia, a dystopian prejudice embodied in the writings of literatureholics. It seems like the relative sizes of real-life events and events read about in books change places, to where nothing in life matters unless it makes a good story.
I'm not sure what it is supposed to be saying as opposed to what it ended up saying to me - and so I checked in with a sex positive friend, wanting a healthy take rather than seeing it from the perspective of our culture which is still judeo-christian brainwashed to fear sex as recreation- which sort of came through in this work but which I'm not THINKING she meant to write --- or, maybe, I'm hoping she didn't mean to convey that message again.
In any event, the entire way through I was alternately horrified and mystified and appalled.
I thought (and hoped) when it started it was going to feature a rare thing - a protagonist who was sex positive - but then, the whole obsession with Jack , the college lover who disappeared and with whom she long remained obsessed to the detriment of her marriage - why?
How did her Jack-obsession connect with or contextualize the interspersing of the football team stories?
Finally, reaching the end after having waited for the appearance of a unifying theme, a clear --- or even an ambiguous --- message and point of view, I thought, "Wow, this is a gimmicky trick that belittles the character and is insulting to the reader."
Then I began questioning myself because SO MANY lit types loved it. But were they selling out because of Nancy Pearl's influence and her obvious kindness and intelligence outside her novel writing?
I've no clear answer to that either, but I felt manipulated and bamboozled by a book I don't think would have been published or hyped had its author not been who its author is.
Even after George and Lizzie get married, she is obsessed with her past. For the reader it's a bit unclear why exactly she can't let things go, and we begin to doubt she ever will. While she at least appreciates George, it's clear that she can't or won't allow herself to love him in the ardent way he loves her.
The story has moments of heartbreak and moments that will make you laugh. I enjoyed it. There are lots of football and poetry references, so if you're interested in either or both, it'll add to the experience. It certainly did for me. It was a completely unexpected addition to the story. Lizzie can be hard to identify with or understand, but I still felt warmth for the character even when I was thinking she needed pretty hefty therapy or a reality check. I loved the ending, too!
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and Touchstone, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.