Private Life Paperback
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- ISBN-10 : 057125876X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571258765
- Dimensions : 4.37 x 1.22 x 7.01 inches
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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"private" wifes (lives!) is not news. . .I saw this woman in my mother and mothers of friends. And I was reminded of "Mrs. Bridge" in several ways. I'd have to say that it's just that Smiley's writing is a pleasure to read. She wrote about a period of time I know less about - and now want to know more. I have to say this
book is nowhere near as compelling as "Thousand Acres" - to me, her best book. I will be eager to hear what
others think as I still have questions about why this book held my interest.
Observatory, his work and his personal life at Mare Island.
This book is the story of the lives of Margaret and Andrew, two Missourians who are drawn together in the post-civil war era. Margaret is portrayed as a sort of 'everywoman' from the time period, while Andrew is supposedly a genius and a bright light from their town. Of course, secrets abound and are unraveled mostly in the second part of the book.
If there is one thing this book does well, it is provide a sort of Forrest-Gumpesque view of the many changes that occurred in America during the time periods portrayed in the book (roughly the 1880's-1942). However, I remain completely confused by how the book went from so very good to so bad at the mid-way point.
Top reviews from other countries
The problem with this book is the central character, Margaret Mayfield: an ordinary and deeply unexciting woman trapped in a marriage that doesn't contain any joy. But how to sympathise with a woman shackled (of her own volition) to a crackpot scientist, when that woman makes no effort to change her circumstances? Margaret is the oddest heroine I have encountered in a long time.
For all his faults, Margaret's husband, Andrew Early, is at least an interesting character: engaged in the world and passionate about subjects that trigger his native curiosity. The plodding Margaret, meanwhile, seems unable to rise above her circumstances in any way, and is therefore no more than a passive observer of the other more dynamic lives around her - notably the rakish Pete and their mutual friend Dora, has the chutzpah to forge an exciting career as a journalist.
There was something dead at the heart of this book, and although it was beautifully framed around a fundamental betrayal and a moment of self-realisation, there was little narrative drive and I often felt I was following the fictionalised life of someone who had actually existed, rather than a creation of Smiley's imagination. But that said, I had the same reaction to Carole Shields' The Stone Diaries, which so many people loved.
I will stick with Jane Smiley, but I can't recommend this book.