The Enchantment of Lily Dahl, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Lily Dahl is a heroine of the old school: tough, beautiful and brave. A nineteen-year-old waitress and aspiring actress living in Webster, Minnesota, she becomes enchanted by an exotic outsider - an artist from New York. Drawn into a world of erotic adventure, she finds herself the target of mysterious acts of madness as she strains against the confines of small town life.


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This didn't grab me quite in the way that <i>The blazing world</i> did: maybe I simply found it easier to connect with the document-based structure of that book than the very visual, film-like style of this one. But <i>Lily Dahl</i> is definitely a very impressive novel, and one that you can't sum up in a few sentences. When we call something a "coming-of-age novel", it usually just means that it's an adolescent love-story, but — at one level — this really is a book about a young woman going through a transformative experience that leaves her a different sort of person at the end from what she was at the beginning. But it's also a philosophical investigation into what we mean by artistic creation, and how the process of representation affects the artist and the subject. And it's a sort of detective story, and a nostalgic/ironic look back at 1960s American small-town life and its uneasy relationship with the world of ideas. And how gender and sexuality and violence and Shakespeare and Marilyn Monroe fit into all that. I've got a feeling that we're not in Lake Wobegon anymore...

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