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The Private Lives of Pippa Lee: A Novel Hardcover – August 5, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The novel begins with Pippa Lee at 50 years old, married to a man 30 years her senior, and moving into a retirement complex. The first part of the book describes her current life, focussing on her relationship with her husband and two adult children. The second part goes back to Pippa's childhood and charts her wild and self-destructive youth up until she meets her husband and changes her life. The final portion of the book returns to the present day, where all is not right between Pippa and her family, and things have reached breaking point.
I found Pippa to be an interesting if not always likeable character. She seemed to drift through life, easily influenced by others, with little conviction about what she wanted or with any kind of moral compass. Despite this, I liked Pippa. I felt she was very much a product of her childhood and was just a confused, lonely person at heart. I was also interested by a lot of the secondary characters and enjoyed how the author managed to perfectly sum up their personalities in just a few piercing descriptive sentences or lines of dialogue.
Perhaps the one false note was the ending. Part of me feels that the loose ends were all tied up too neatly, within just a few pages, and perhaps the book could have gone on a bit longer to make the ending more realistic. Furthermore, there was also something that happened near the end of the book that just didn't ring true.Read more ›
So, we all change as we mature. Daughter of a dysfunctional mother, she becomes a rebellious teenager. Surprise. Not enough supervision by her aunt, she is corrupted by a predatory older woman. Surprise surprise. When she falls into the New York drug crowd, one might wonder why the influence of her Episcopalian pastor father and dislike for her dexedrine-addicted mother don't have any influence on that choice.
But all goes well after she falls in love with a married man 30-yrs. her senior and has twins and hunkers down as a wife and mother for the next 30 yrs. Why? That question is not quite answered. Except that I guess she was pretty normal all along except for the angst of young adulthood. This is all told in flashback.
Now open the novel with Pippa and 80 yr. old husband Herb deciding to move into a retirement community that doesn't quite agree with Pippa. Except that isn't explained too well either, considering Herb's exceptional desire to stay young (with gusto). And except, as Pippa says, that Marigold Village, the retirement community, is like a fairy tale, where you enter, and something happens to you like children meeting a witch. Well, something bad does happen to her, but, again (surprise) like a fairy tale all ends well because, after all, Pippa was just pretty normal to begin with anyway. I guess.
The last sentence is one of the few bits of insight we have into Pippa's human condition, and it's doesn't amount to much for a novel that had the potential to be more. But it allows her to neatly walk out of the dark woods of Marigold Village with a pithy little platitude.
The raw intelligence of the prose is what moved me. Miller is hugely talented and some lines literally left me reeling. One is when Pippa's daughter, Grace, at a very young age said to her mother "I own you as far as the eye can see." Such statements cause Pippa to remove herself from her daughter's clutches a little, an act of tough love or selfishness? There are many questions like this that this book surreptitiously poses that made it a thought provoking delight.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Outstanding tale of one women's journey into personal discovery of what is valuable in her own life path. DinyPublished 5 months ago by Diny
Thoroughly enjoyed Pippa and her many lives...I liked it so much, in fact, I have put it up for my book club. We are ready for a "light" read after some heavy topics. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Dawn B.
When the book begins Pippa is in her fifties. She's one of those well-to-do perfect housewife types that everyone simply adores. Read morePublished on February 1, 2013 by Barks Book Nonsense
I just finished reading this book this afternoon so I haven't had time to fully digest it all, but I felt the urge to add my opinion after reading so many negative ones. Read morePublished on April 15, 2011 by KellyG
I also read the first bit of this book from an online book club and thought it would make a fun read, so I ordered it. Read morePublished on February 14, 2011 by Dianne Myhan
The premise of this book sounded good, but the reality was underwhelming. Left me wondering how on earth this manuscript impressed any book editor. Read morePublished on July 12, 2010 by Mom of 2 Boys
I enjoyed the first half of the book. I really wanted to learn more about her relationship with her daughter and I wanted to know more about her life going forward from age... Read morePublished on July 9, 2010 by R. Gordon
To say I loathed this book is an understatement. My impression of the body of this author's work is that she is completely out of touch with the real world, real people, true life... Read morePublished on February 20, 2010 by Scarlett in Hoops
I understand that when the book was in third person, Pippa was distant from herself and didn't really know who she was in this new lifestyle of hers. Read morePublished on January 4, 2010 by Katie K.