In this mesmerizing, funny, chilling novel. the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, the subject the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman.
When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail.
Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process.
With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 352 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 04/10/2007
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099484998
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Review by Whaddney
A very interesting work. The focus of the book is Lucy, a ferociously moralistic young woman in 1940s small town America. Defining herself in opposition to her alcoholic father, she has grown to believe that she is the only truly moral fighter against a bad world. Roth brilliantly uses her absolutist and pitiless gaze to explore the flawed but well-meaning characters around her. In opposition to this never-endingly harsh point of view, we are drawn into compassionately engaging with their (and our) human failings. As the book progresses and Lucy's self-imposed social isolation worsens, these characters retreat into a background against which Lucy rails in an increasingly hopeless monologue against all around her. Occasionally, she seems to show flashes of understanding of her central role in her husband's and family's struggles, but these are quickly hidden by her inability to see any good in her father.Loved it.