When She Was Good, Paperback Book

When She Was Good Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her irresponsible, alcoholic father thrown in jail.

Since then, Lucy has become a furious adolescent - raging against middle-class life and provincial American piety - intent on reforming the men around her: especially her incompetent mama's boy of a husband, Roy.

As time rolls on, Lucy struggles to free herself of the terrible disappointment engendered by her father, and is forever yearning for the man he could never be.

It is with scalpel-like precision that Roth depicts the rage, the hatred and the ferocity of feeling that soon takes hold of Lucy's life.


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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.

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