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Lily Beach Hardcover – May, 1993

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After an overwrought beginning, Fields's first novel develops into an intense, well-plotted narrative, rich in symbolism and imagination. During the 1960s, Lily Beach moves from Iowa City to Illinois and back in desperate attempts to erase the emotional scars left by a childhood of abuse, inconstancy and loss. Like Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin's The Awakening , Lily uses both art (she's a printmaker) and sex as means for self-expression and self-annihilation. She is involved with three men who threaten to suffocate her with the very qualities that draw her to them: Will's angry exhilarating passion; Ted's sense of propriety; Andre's artistic intensity. A fourth man, Jack, hovers in the background, following her everywhere. Fields diminishes the impact of her characterization through overstatement and unnecessary explanation; her writing is sometimes marked by the same excesses that define Lily's life. Still, the prose often has the brilliant immediacy of a photograph, making this probing examination of sexuality, identity and love a promising debut. BOMC featured alternate.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

A first novel that tells--solemnly if captivatingly--of a budding artist who seeks love and fulfillment despite her ignominious beginnings. She's not like other girls. At college in the early 60's, Lily Beach reveals a tragic sensibility in her dark eyes and in her clothes, ``always black or the color of bruises,'' that set her apart from her blond, sweater-setted classmates in the Art Department of the University of Iowa. Her seductive gloom, along with a compulsive need for sex that she secretly fears, attracts some strange ducks to her bed--Ted, an engineer incapable of expressing emotion; Will Sternhagen, a son of divorce unable to commit himself; and Andre Pulaski, a Paraguayan printmaker more than twice her age who chastely worships her and finally asks only to serve as her guardian angel. Lily has real talent but feels no particular need to fulfill it; she's more concerned with shaking free of the guilt caused by her mother's suicide the day after Lily told her her stepfather had tried to rape her. Therefore she drifts--first into a job with a Chicago ad agency, then into marriage to Ted, motherhood, and an empty suburban life on the sidelines of the swinging Sixties. Fortunately, though, throughout this overweight, dissatisfied part of her life, Lily's former admirers have not forgotten her. Will returns to help free her from her stultifying marriage, and Pulaski appears to reveal himself as the lover she was meant for--mere hours before his tragic death. In the end, Lily finds herself without a man (but with two children), picking up a paintbrush and dreaming of a new life lived on her own unfettered terms. Fields's prose can lack humor at the worst of times, but her portrait of the artist as a young (and aging) woman offers both a satisfying story and food for feminist thought. Like Lily herself, a strangely addictive--and intriguing--first work of fiction. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 291 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum; First Edition edition (May 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689121768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689121760
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,038,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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on April 18, 1997
Format: Paperback
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