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1. Familiar Spirits: A Memoir of
2. Foreign Affairs: A Novel
3. Real People
4. The Nowhere City
5. The Language of Clothes
6. Truth and Consequences
7. The War Between the Tates
8. Don't Tell the Grown-Ups: The
9. Love and Friendship
10. Paare
11. Imaginary Friends
12. The Heavenly Zoo: Legends and
13. Alison Lurie (Twayne's United
14. Poems and Plays. With a memoir
15. Only Children
16. Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten
17. The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy
18. Fabulous Beasts
19. The Truth about Lorin Jones
20. The Black Geese: A Baba Yaga Folk

1. Familiar Spirits: A Memoir of James Merrill and David Jackson
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 192 Pages (2002-02-26)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$4.70
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142000450
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Alison Lurie, one of America's greatest novelists, has written a loving memoir of world-famous poet James Merrill and his longtime partner David Jackson. Drawing on her forty-year friendship with Merrill and Jackson, Lurie reveals the couple's deep involvement with ghosts, gods, and spirits, with whom they communicated through a Ouija board. Among the results of their intense twenty-year preoccupation with the occult is the brilliant book-length poem "The Changing Light at Sandover", which Merrill called his "chronicles of love and loss." Recalling Merrill and Jackson's life together in New York, Athens, and Key West, Familiar Spirits is a poignant memoir infused with great affection and generous amounts of Lurie's signature wit.

"[A] remarkable and moving memoir." (The Boston Globe)

"Written with the poignancy of long affection." (The Atlantic Monthly)

"This memoir is Lurie's own Ouija board, through which she shares one final, intimate conversation with her much-missed familiar spirits." (The Washington Post)Amazon.com Review
Written with her characteristic grace, novelist Alison Lurie's memoir of her friendship with the poet James Merrill and his companion David Jackson offers more than reminiscences, though these are tender, frank, and perceptive. Lurie also considers the broader subjects of fame's arbitrary nature and its impact on a relationship, as well as the perils and pleasures of dabbling in the occult. When she first became close to the couple in 1954, all three were struggling young writers. But while Merrill soon became a critically respected poet, and novels like The War Between the Tates made Lurie some money as well as a reputation, Jackson remained unpublished and obscure. He was understandably frustrated, and Lurie suggests that the pair's increasing involvement in sessions on their Ouija board were partly an effort to find an outlet for Jackson's creative energies. These sessions formed the basis for Merrill's long poem "The Changing Light at Sandover" (in Lurie's estimation not the best use of his gifts), and she believes they encouraged the men to become dangerously isolated from the real world. Jackson began to drink more heavily, and his casual affairs grew more irritating to Merrill, who launched a serious relationship with a young actor whose uncritical devotion exacerbated tensions between the longtime lovers. Merrill died of AIDS in 1995; the physically and mentally debilitated Jackson, writes Lurie, "is now a ghost in Key West." Her sensitive recollections bring back the time when they were young, beautiful, and in love, with the world before them. Examining the personal and artistic cost of their decades-long engagement with the spirit world, Lurie asks the always relevant, never resolvable questions, "How much should one risk for art? What chances should one take?" --Wendy Smith ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

1-0 out of 5 stars Friendly Fire
How unfortunate that the self-appointed biographer (though she terms it a memoir) of James Merrill should take such a dull and dreary approach, ploddingly setting about trying to debunk James Merrill & David Jackson's decades of experiences with a Ouija board that so beautifully resulted in Merrill's masterpiece, The Changing Light at Sandover.

Alison Lurie, by her own admission, recognizes Merrill as "supernaturally brilliant," but his intelligence is so other than or beyond her own that she literally likens him to a Martian. Apparently unable to comprehend the content of Merrill's epic work, and making it clear that she doesn't even like it, Lurie instead settles for a tedious dissection. Smoke, mirrors, string, simplistic attempts at psychoanalyzing Merrill; surely something besides the truth of reality must be behind all of this communicating-with-spirits hocus-pocus. And, contradictorily, her broad condemning brushstrokes at once paint the Ouija experiences as the mere summoning of Merrill and/or Jackson's unconscious mind(s) (she's offended by what the spirits have to say about her) and the dangerous communing with devils and demons.

Perhaps if she had actually read Merrill's books, instead of mining them for ammunition against him, this mean-spirited little book would have had something of value to offer.

Alas, this book reads as little more than a paean to Lurie's dislike of Merrill, and is ultimately more about how SHE feels about her subject than it is about Merrill himself. It's rather sickening to imagine her years of "friendship" with the man, which seem to have been little more than the collecting of criticisms and private details for future use in this petty volume.

This book does a disservice to the passion, commitment and spiritual intensity of the lives and work of James Merrill and David Jackson as so eloquently and painstakingly communicated in Merrill's work. I recommend interested readers go directly to The Changing Light at Sandover, and skip this diluted and negatively biased "memoir."

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful beach read
I seldom read fiction, but I've enjoyed three of Alison Lurie's novels. After my attention fell on the work of James Merrill, and I saw that Alison Lurie had written about him, I ran, not walked, to the library to get her book. It was everything I expected: a wonderful gossip, a further stimulus to read James Merrill's poems, and a work of insight about the literary culture of Key West--which I found even more interesting because I once talked with Alison Lurie and several other writers there at a Key West Festival.

Alison Lurie knew James Merrill and his lover David Jackson for many years. She doesn't allow us to understand why they befriended her, but we have no trouble understanding why she befriended them. They were fun, cultured, intellectual, supportive, and moneyed, and shared interests with Alison Lurie. Jimmy often swam with her and David cooked with her. If this book seems to contain gaps and mysteries, it's probably because Alison Lurie has held back in her account in respect of their friendship. She has done us a favor to tell as much as she does. I was less interested in the theories about the Ouija Board and actually skipped some of her deconstruction of Merrill's poetry. Her defense of David Jackson as co-author of Merrill's work has merit. Jackson, although she doesn't seem to realize it, was (is) a self-destructive personality. His deterioration is self-evident in the anecdote about his angry driving in Italy in 1978, years before Peter Hooten entered Merrill's life. One is forced to wonder how Merrill died of AIDS and the other two remained untouched by it.

5-0 out of 5 stars eerie cautionary tale
This is a beautifully written long view of the lives of James Merrill, poet, and his lover and uncredited collaborator David Jackson.They dabbled through the ouija board in contact with unseen spirits that supposedly provided the material for Merrill's largest poetic works.The cost to both men of this eerie devotion is trenchantly narrated by Alison Lurie, their friend of many years.The charge that Ms. Lurie is using her connection to Merrill to enhance her own reputation is absurd, as she is far more well known in general than Merrill.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very gossipy little book. Yetfascinating and embarassing.
In spite of the fact that the author reveals a bit too much of herself in this book (a fact which makes you like and then dislike her sometimes) she does weave an interesting theory about the inner workings of Merrill and Jackson's minds. I didn't feel she presented these men dishonestly, though some fans of Merrill's obviously resented the fact that their god was made to appear as a mere mortal---and a somewhat foolish one at that.

Juicy, gossipy, lewd, audacious at times, you had to imagine she was indeed capitalizing somewhat on her friendship with Merrill because she did not wait for her friend David Jackson to die before she began revealing what a mess he had become. Why? If she were afraid SHE would die without having a chance to add her two cents she could have written the book, but not published it until after Jackson's real death.

I guess it's hard to quarrel with her motives as I read it in one sitting, lapping up all the strange, weird revelations about these men. My respect for them was not diminished by her lurid details of their intimate life. Nothing in Key West is ever ordinary...

What was most fascinating about the book though was the fact that Lurie herself became an equal part of the mystery. Was she obsessed with these men? Secretly in love with Jackson? Jealous of them? Twice she had to say that "they were rich and could buy anything they wanted". Twice!

Sadly, Lurie never did manage to do what she wanted---to comprehend these men. This goal never got quite satisfied, so in the end the reader of this book is not quite satisfied.

It is an important memoir though because it is the ONLY one right now offering any insight into Merrill, the man and the poet.

I think you have to accept the book for exactly what it is, one woman's perspective about two men she was close to---but not close enough to truly understand them. It was an honest attempt on Lurie's part and a courageous one even and it did reveal Lurie's writing talent. For better or worse, she certainly did create a very vivid yet terrifying tale about two utterly amazing lives.

4-0 out of 5 stars why did it have to end like this?
The story is strongest when she is most generous to her characters and most fully shares her own story within theirs.At times, she writes out of her anger at those who hurt her friends, at them for not staying true to love and beauty, and at the world for its unhappiness.She doesn't have nearly enough distance from JM's spaghetti western svengali and DJ's young black hustlers to write about them for publication.

How could two so full of love have come to such a sad end?The answer, it seems at times, is that gay marriage in our world doesn't have the structuring social context to do the work we expect from marriage.But we need to know more about her, her own loves, her children and her novels in order to speak honestly with her about the long haul.

The ouija board saves the marriage by holding it together under the burden of professional success and failure.And it destroys them both.It ruins JM as a poet -- he writes a beautiful "Book of Ephraim," then two more fat, quick and unreflective books of spirit-writing, then not much else.It draws them away from friends and life into a compelling fantasy they only partly believe in, are afraid of, and that becomes gradually coarser and uglier.As she sees it, James dies bewildered and ruined, while David loses his mind and soul to the devils.

She paints beautiful, vivid portraits of her friends in their youth. ... Read more

2. Foreign Affairs: A Novel
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 304 Pages (2006-11-14)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$4.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812976312
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Virginia Miner, a fifty-something, unmarried tenured professor, is in London to work on her new book about children’s folk rhymes. Despite carrying a U.S. passport, Vinnie feels essentially English and rather looks down on her fellow Americans. But in spite of that, she is drawn into a mortifying and oddly satisfying affair with an Oklahoman tourist who dresses more Bronco Billy than Beau Brummel.

Also in London is Vinnie’s colleague Fred Turner, a handsome, flat broke, newly separated, and thoroughly miserable young man trying to focus on his own research. Instead, he is distracted by a beautiful and unpredictable English actress and the world she belongs to.

Both American, both abroad, and both achingly lonely, Vinnie and Fred play out their confused alienation and dizzying romantic liaisons in Alison Lurie’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Smartly written, poignant, and witty, Foreign Affairs remains an enduring comic masterpiece.

“A splendid comedy, very bright, brilliantly written in a confident and original manner. The best book by one of our finest writers.”
–Elizabeth Hardwick

“There is no American writer I have read with more constant pleasure and sympathy. . . . Foreign Affairs earns the same shelf as Henry James and Edith Wharton.”
–John Fowles

“If you manage to read only a few good novels a year, make this one of them.”
USA Today

“An ingenious, touching book.”

“A flawless jewel.”
Philadelphia Inquirer ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read... Several Times!
Every few years I read this book again, and am never disappointed.It's just pure perfection.Bitter-sweet is too mundane a word, but it's somewhere in that realm.If you love to read, just read it.You won't be sorry.

I often give this book as a gift paired with another, David Lodge's Paradise News.They explore similar themes of mid-life course corrections.

4-0 out of 5 stars Touches of Amazing Writing With One Unfortunate Flaw
I found this novel confusing. Two distinctly different stories play out side by side and, while the main characters in each story do interact, I see very little relationship between the two stories or the need for Fred's story at all. For me, it was simply a distraction until I could back to Vinnie. Vinnie's story is compelling, witty, heartbreaking, funny, and quite amazingly written. However, Fred's story is boring, silly, unbelievable, and sometimes annoying. Vinnie's character is so well defined, while Fred remained an unclear foggy character throughout the book. I adored Vinnie and her imaginary dog, Fido, (who represents her self pity) so much as to give this book 4 stars. This is clearly her story and should have stood alone.

3-0 out of 5 stars Two Very Different Stories in One Novel
Foreign Affairs won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1985.It certainly was a far different choice for this award in that it was a very straighforward lightish comedy.Even being light, it certainly explored serious themes like loving and being loved as you age, the U.S. vs. England and the serious nature of academic pursuit which is so easily ridiculed as insignificant.

The book tells the story of two professors who separately are spending time in England for research, run into each other occasionally and share friends in common.Their stories are told in alternating chapters with more intersection near the end.

The first character is Virginia(Vinnie)Miner, a 54 year old single professor specializing in Children's literature.She is selfish, jaded, self pityingand not necessarily a very nice person.She is also an Anglophile and visits England as much as possible.Even though she is American, she is disdainful of most other Americans.She has had affairs and a brief marriage in America but nothing ever worked out.She fantasizes about an English affair and pictures herself with a great English writer.The core is that she falls for an uneducated Sanitary Engineer from Tulsa, Oklahoma named Chuck Mumpson.When she first meets him on the plane, she is greatly put off if not outright disgusted by him.The circumstances by which she falls into an affair with him and eventually and reluctantly falls in love with him was a great story.Chuck thinks of her as a great person and she begins to live up to his expectations.Her transformation is very well written, very believable and very touching.If this book was just about Vinnie Miner then I would have given it a much higher rating.

The second character is the very good looking Fred Turner who is in his late twenties and reeling from the separation from his wife in the U.S.He is very lonely and broke in London until he meets fairly famous TV actress Lady Rosemary Radley.Fred begins to associate with London's arts community and enjoys himself tremendously while falling love with the mercurial and predicatbly self centered and petulant Rosemary.This storyline left me cold.Where Lurie wrote Vinnie Miner from the heart and certainly based pieces of her on real experience, she didn't seem to ever fully form Fred Turner.I looked forward to the Fred chapters ending so that I could return to Vinnie's story.

A mixed review from me on this one.To restate, I obviously wished she'd focused more on the interesting story line.There is definitely some great comic writing here but the novel has significant flaws.I recommend it only for the story of Professor Vinnie Miner.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lighter than your typical Pulitzer winner
This delightful little novel is lighter fare than the typical Pulitzer winner.Don't look for a deep exploration of universal truth or a treatise on the meaning of life.That is not to say that this is mere fluff.Lurie has plenty to say about both the dark and more noble faces of Human nature. Her insights though, served with a generous dose of restrained humor, are as delectable as a maple sugar candy melting on your tongue.While an undercurrent of humor is sustained throughout the work, this is not slapstick or uproarious comedy. Although continually amused, I only laughed out loud a few times. In a fashion not dissimilar to the following year's Pulitzer Prize winner, Lonesome Dove, Lurie mixes pathos and humor in a way that feels like life itself.As is McMurtry she is easy and enjoyable to read. And also like McMurtry she never sacrifices entertainment on the altar of profundity. If you are like me, this novel and its characters will grow on you.At first, I will admit I was a bit bored, and wondered what all the fuss was about.However, by the time I was about a third of the way into the story I was thoroughly hooked.Ultimately, Vinnie Miner, the novel's unlikely heroine proves to be a more interesting, creative and believable character than Fred Turner, her hapless male counterpart.Vinnie is quirky and original enough to be totally unforgettable. And yet she is so familiar you will keep searching for who she reminds you of, certain that you have known someone just like her even though you can't quite come up with who it is.The unexpected plot twists which in a more serious work would seem contrived and disingenuous are forgiven here for their entertainment value.I highly recommend this novel to the reader looking for a lighter, but still intelligent, read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Love Affair is with Britain
This is a gem of a novel and I praise the Pulitzer committee for choosing a book that is so witty and fun to read.While the story is about two different "odd couples," the real love affair is with Britain and all the possibilities it offers for the traveler. Vinnie is not your typical heroine--you may love or hate her, but she is real and I really cared about her journey. The novel is full of other quirky characters, too,that you will keep you amused throughout. ... Read more

3. Real People
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 163 Pages (1998-01-31)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$7.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000H2N3G4
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Et in Illyria Ego
A frequent theme of Thomas Mann's writing is the dichotomy between the "Kuenstler", or artist, and the "Buerger", a word that can be translated either as "citizen" or "bourgeois". Janet, the central character of this novel, tries to keep a foot in both camps. On the one hand she is Janet Stockwell, the wife of a successful insurance company executive, on the other, she is Janet Belle Smith, moderately successful writer of short stories. (She writes under her maiden name).

The novel is set during the two weeks in midsummer which Janet spends at Illyria, a New England stately home. (The story is told in the first person, and is written as though it were being told in Janet's diary). Once the mansion of a wealthy family, Illyria is now, under the terms of the will of its last owner, a colony for creative artists. The name "Illyria" is probably a pun on "Bohemia"- both were former names of counties in Eastern Europe, Croatia and the Czech Republic respectively, and both were used by Shakespeare as settings for plays. Every year, various writers, musicians, painters and sculptors are invited to spend a few weeks or months in the house in order to escape from the pressures of the outside world (what Janet calls "the world of telegrams and anger") and concentrate on their work.

Among Janet's fellow-guests at Illyria are Charlie Baxter, a disillusioned Marxist novelist, now a self-destructive alcoholic suffering from poverty, Gerald Glass, a young hippy poet, Nick Donato, a modernist pop-art sculptor from a working-class immigrant New York background, and Leonard Zimmern, an eminent literary critic. The guest Janet is most looking forward to meeting is Kenneth Foster, a more traditionalist artist. Although there has never been any sexual relationship between them, Janet is secretly in love with Kenneth; he is trapped in an unhappy marriage to a drunken and unfaithful wife, and Janet sees him as a kindred spirit, someone who, unlike her husband, understands her creative impulses.

Janet has always enjoyed her stays at Illyria in the past, and at first she is happy to be once again in a place she describes as a "small private Eden". (The title "Real People" derives from Janet's theory that at Illyria one becomes one's real self, the person one would be in a decent world). Even in Eden, however, there was a serpent and forbidden fruit, and as Janet's stay progresses she finds quarrels breaking out among the guests and she herself becomes more discontented. (The changing weather seems to reflect Janet's feelings; at first pleasantly warm, it later becomes oppressively hot, with a thunderstorm at the end coinciding with her emotional crisis).The catalyst for much of the discontent is Anna May Mundy, the teenage niece of the administrator of the Illyria foundation. Anna May is an attractive but superficial girl, uninterested in art but fascinated by celebrity, and it is her flirtations with the male guests which are the cause of much of the dissension. The crisis for Janet comes when she discovers that Kenneth is secretly a homosexual, and she allows herself to be drawn into a brief sexual liaison with Nick.

Although this is a short novel, of less than 150 pages, it is a profound one, partly a character-study of Janet and her housemates, partly an examination of the nature of artistic creativity. Janet's discoveries about Kenneth and about herself lead her to re-examine both her personal life and her art, yet she emerges stronger from this crisis. Paradoxically, her adultery with Nick strengthens her marriage, as she comes to appreciate her husband's good qualities and abandons her fantasies of leaving him. As far as her art is concerned, she is forced to confront the fact that there has hitherto been something dishonest about her fiction and that she has been too concerned to avoid writing anything that might upset her family to her middle-class neighbours. The book ends with Janet resolving to write with greater honesty in future. "If nothing will survive of life besides what artists report of it, we have no right to report what we know to be lies".

For all the high-mindedness of its closing line, this is not a heavy-going or sententious book. Alison Lurie has the talent of combining serious themes with both readability and the ability to draw vivid, and often satirical, pen-portraits, and "Real People" is a good example of this talent. The novel is, in fact, often comic, as the author satirisesthe pretensions of various members of the American cultural establishment. (I wondered whether any of these were in fact disguised portraits of real-life people). An excellent book

5-0 out of 5 stars "Fiction is condensed reality..."
When writers write about writing, the results are usually very interesting.Think of Calvino's "If On A Winter's Night a Traveler", Byatt's "Possession", Roth's "The Ghost Writer", and Coetzee's "Elizabeth Costello".Alison Lurie's 1970 novel is right up there with them, to my mind.It's only 146 pages long, but what it lacks in length it more than makes up for in elegance and sophistication.Janet 'Belle' Smith - married, early forties, and the author of a well-received collection of short stories - is taking her annual sojourn at Illyria, a New England mansion which has been converted into an invitation-only retreat for artists of all kinds.Craving escape from a deadening home life, Janet is delighted to find her friend Kenneth is on the guest list, but the appearance of the witless waif Anna May and the husky sculptor Nick Donato threaten to disrupt everything.As Janet struggles to construct new stories she is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about herself, her companions, and the potential fraudulence of her art.Lurie chooses Janet's diary as the narrative device, and it's an excellent choice for a novel which deals with the difference between appearance and reality, between social roles and one's own sense of identity, and in which the protagonist's reflection on these differences is vital.Apart from constructing a neat snapshot of American art in the 1960s, Lurie deftly explores the familiar crisis of female artistry: the competing claims of being a wife/mother and having a creative career which family members more or less refuse to take seriously.But this isn't just about women.It's about the relationship between art and reality.What starts out as a comedy of manners escalates in profundity until it becomes, in the final pages, a concise manifesto on the nature and purpose of art - which turns out to be truth:"If nothing survives of life besides what artists report of it, we have no right to report what we know to be lies." ... Read more

4. The Nowhere City
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 343 Pages (1997-08)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$8.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805051791
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Paul and Katherine a young couple newly arrived in Los Angeles from the ordered but restrained environs of Harvard are forced to reexamine everything that gave their life meaning back in the "real" world. Informed by a brilliant interpretation of East and West Coast lifestyles and attitudes, this novel is an insightful and tellingly funny account of marital dysfunction. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

2-0 out of 5 stars The Nowhere City
Hmmm.Only read it because Capote said she was one of his favourite writers - why?

4-0 out of 5 stars LA in the '60s wasn't that much different from LA today...
For a book written in 1965, I found it to be terribly modern - from the love affairs, to the way the characters seem to be the cities themselves. I liked the writing a lot - it was very immediate, but the end wasn't quite as wrapped up as I would like it to be. Still, it was a highly entertaining book and more than anything else, I wish that the book had a photograph of the author. Still, I liked it and I am shocked that LA hasn't seemed to change much.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Eternal Dizzying Present
Like Alison Lurie's first novel, "Love and Friendship", her second deals with marital disharmony among members of America's academic community. Whereas the earlier book, however, was set in a wintry New England, "The Nowhere City" takes place in sunny California. Paul Cattleman, a young university historian, accepts a job with a big corporation based in Los Angeles to write the company's history.

One of the major themes of the book is cultural differences between America's East and West coasts. Paul and his wife Katherine are both Easterners, she from an upper-class New England family. At first they react to their change of scene in very different ways. Paul loves Los Angeles for its sunny climate and its relaxed lifestyle. Katherine, on the other hand, hates the city. This is partly because the atmospheric pollution aggravates her allergies, but mostly because she regards it as a cultural wasteland, the "nowhere city" of the book's title. Los Angeles, to her, appears to have no sense of history, to be a place living in "an eternal dizzying present", where the differences between the seasons, and even between day and night, are less distinct than they are in the north-east.

The differences between the couple create tensions within their marriage. Paul begins an affair with a young waitress named Ceci and gets drawn into her circle of unconventional friends living in Venice Beach, at that time a centre for the beatnik community. (The book is set in the early sixties). This leads into another theme of the book, the way in which California became for Americans in the second half of the twentieth century what America in general had been for Europeans of earlier generations- a frontier, a place of refuge for those dissatisfied for one reason or another with life at home and seeking a better life elsewhere. The Los Angeles area was therefore a natural magnet for the beatnik and hippie movements. (This idea of California as "The Last Resort" was also to be the theme of the Eagles' song of that name; it is interesting that Lurie later borrowed the title for one of her own novels, although that book is set in Florida rather than California).

Katherine, seeking something with which to occupy herself, finds work as a secretary at the University of California, where she too begins an affair with her boss, an academic psychiatrist who is the estranged husband of a glamorous Hollywood starlet named Glory Green. This leads to a complex emotional entanglement. Paul's affair with Ceci comes to an end; she knows full well that he is married, but cannot accept the idea that he is still having sexual relations with his wife. Paul is then seduced by Glory, who is seekingrevenge against her husband. Eventually, Paul finds himself falling out of love with the California lifestyle, especially after the company refuse to publish his history which shows them in too harsh a light, and decides to move back East to take up a teaching job at a prestigious New England college, a decision which provokes the ironic role-reversal of the book's ending.

I can't agree with the earlier reviewer who said that you begin the book hating Katherine and sympathizing with Paul. My sympathies were with Katherine throughout. Paul is a selfish character who has always put his own needs before those of his wife; he bullies her into moving to California, and Ceci is by no means his first extra-marital affair. It seemed to me that the book was written from a subtly feminist viewpoint and can be interpreted as the story of how Katherine learns to stand up to, and say no to, her self-centred husband.

As is normal in Lurie's work, the tone of the book, despite some serious themes, is relatively light, with plenty of satirical humour aimed at the characters' pretensions. The big Nutting Corporation like the social kudos of having a Harvard-educated historian of their payroll, but do not like it when he tells them some truths they do not want to hear. Dr Einsam the psychiatrist is so busy analysing life that he is unable to experience it. Glory and the film industry types who surround her are shown up as shallow, vain and insincere. (The satire on the Hollywood of the sixties reminded me of that in Joan Didion's "Play it as it Lays", although that book is darker and more serious in tone). The beatniks are childish, and more economically dependent than they like to think on the "square" society they despise. Although they see that society as intolerant and narrow-minded, the same could be said for their own system of values with its "them and us" mentality.

At times I found some of this satire to be somewhat unfair. The beatnik and hippie movements may have had their hypocritical side, but at least their unconventionality and idealism did force Middle America to ask itself some difficult questions it might have preferred to avoid. And are there really no unpretentious or sincere people working in the entertainment industry? Nevertheless, the satirist's role is not to be fair-minded; satire that strains to see both sides of every question and nails its colours firmly to the fence is hardly worthy of the name. The theme of cultural differences between East Coast and West Coast America was perhaps less interesting to me, as an Englishman, than it would have been to an American readership. (It has always struck me, anyway, that the two coasts have more in common with each other than either does with America's interior heartland). Although this is not my favourite Alison Lurie book (I prefer some of her later books such as "Real People" and "The Truth about Lorin Jones" which have a greater depth and insight), "The Nowhere City"is certainly an enjoyable read

5-0 out of 5 stars A California girl's favorite!
This is my favorite Alison Lurie novel. The scenes are a bit dated (my mental images picture the 1960's), but they are very familiar to me as a former Los Angelino. The contrasting cultures (east vs. west coast) are vividly represented in the experiences of two main characters. The aspect I like the best is how you begin the book hating Katherine and sympathizing with Paul, but the author adeptly switches your allegiances. ... Read more

5. The Language of Clothes
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 288 Pages (2000-03-15)
list price: US$22.50 -- used & new: US$69.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805062440
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Back in print, the classic book about the clothes we wear and what they say about us.

Even before we speak to someone in a meeting, at a party, or on the street, our clothes often express important information (or misinformation) about our occupation, origin, personality, opinions, and tastes. And we pay close attention to how others dress as well; though we may not be able to put what we observe into words, we unconsciously register the information, so that when we meet and converse we have already spoken to one another in a universal tongue.

Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, is our savvy guide and interpreter on this tour through the history of fashion. She provides fascinating insights into how changing sex roles, political upheavals, and class structure have influenced costume. Whether she is describing the enormous amount of clothing worn by early Victorian women or illuminating the significance of the long robes worn by aging men throughout history to connote eminence, her analysis is playful, clever, and always on target. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars A meditation, not a history
This is an amusing essay on how Lurie interprets various clothing, outfits, and styles. The book is easy to read and is a way to pass the time pleasurably. Potential readers, however, should be aware that the "language" metaphor does not hold for long: in this book, clothes are like a language only inasmuch as they convey meaning. One could just as validly and convincingly write about, say, "the language of bookshelves" or "the language of bicycle riding styles." Those interested in a history of clothing would do well to look elsewhere, and those interested in analyses of clothing would do well to look elsewhere as well (e.g., The Fashion System). Potential readers are also warned that Lurie tends to make sweeping generalizations about persons not part of her social world (e.g., the poor or non-Anglo-Saxons) and some may find these generalizations (never backed by citations of evidence) offensive.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great social history of clothes
Well written, well argued history, not text book like at all, but like a long New Yorker article.A pleasure to read.It's not about silly petty fads but great social movements that underlie trends and revolutions.I think more photo illustrations would help.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Pick-Up Line...
The best pick-up line is to tell a woman how her clothes communicate aspects of her personality. Women love to talk about what the colors, patterns, and styles of their clothes mean. "The Language of Clothes" is all you need to do this -- although I also recommend "Big Hair: A Journey into the Transformation of Self," by Grant McCracken, to discuss what women's hair means. "The Language of Clothes" consists of chapters about how clothes express youth or age, a time or era, certain places, social status, etc. The best chapters are about how clothes communicate gender and sexual messages. This book is also one of the best birthday presents to give to a woman. (I shouldn't be sexist -- the book also discusses men's clothes.) The book has *lots* of clothes, and lots of photos.It's long and carefully researched.Itmakes you think.Women happily spend hours paging through it.
Review by Thomas David Kehoe...

5-0 out of 5 stars A sweeping look at the history and evolution of clothing.
Novelist Lurie here turns her attention to the history and social interpretation of clothing, linking politics, sexuality and social issues such as class to the evolution of clothing design and style. From Victorianto modern times, The Language of Clothes takes a sweeping look at thehistory of clothing's evolution and trends, making for an excellent guide.

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fascinating!
I can't wait to go out and buy this book, which I read in hardcover from the library.It is very well researched and illustrated and discusses clothes and fashions from long ago up till today. And not just fashions and how they change, but what they MEAN.For example, did you know....in oldentimes, not just elegant clothing, but cloth itself was and admired andexpensive commodity. The more cloth making up one's clothing meant thatperson was wealthy. Paintings of the period featured draperies in thebackground to indicate a person's wealth, and even today designer clothinguses more cloth and is cut fuller, carrying on the tradition.Anyoneinterested in not only fashion and clothing but symbols and history shouldread this book, it is just fascinating and delicious. ... Read more

6. Truth and Consequences
by Alison Lurie
Hardcover: 240 Pages (2005-10-06)

Isbn: 0701178914
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (19)

4-0 out of 5 stars When Love Fades
A novel about middle-aged couples and the challenges of married life set in an American University. The main couple in this story Jane and Alan Mackenzie finds their picture-perfect lives threatened when Alan throws his back and becomes increasingly an invalid.

In comes the flighty and tempestuous novelist Delia Delaney who descends onto the Matthew Unger Center for the Humanities that Jane is director of. Soon Alan, a professor at the College of Architecture, finds himself seduced by this pre-Raphaelite beauty who is so self-absorbed she does not treat him like a sick person, something he finds refreshing and helps him to seemingly regain his masculine prowess.

To complicate things, Jane finds herself both repulsed and attracted to Delia's husband, Henry, black curls, broad shoulders and all.

A straightforward enough story that Lurie manages to raise above the predictable by setting it against an academic and artistic background that she seems to be familiar with and paints with some gusto and precision. It may be argued that Delia and Henry seem rather flat in contrast with the more developed character of Jane and perhaps even Alan (both of whom Lurie details with much sympathy as normal people who are battling exenuating circumstances and trying to do the right thing). But the story is engaging and the writing crisp and often humorous, with spot-on descriptions like the following, which is an observation by a minor character in the novel to explain the destructive attraction of Delia:

"Delia's not capable of multi-tasking. When she's working, she doesn't notice anything that happens around her. Or if you manage to interrupt her, then she turns her attention on you - her complete attention, like a high-powered spotlight, though usually not for long. People are drawn to it like moths, they flutter frantically against the glass,a nd then the spotlight is turned off and they fall to the ground, scorched."

4-0 out of 5 stars What a stitch!

I laughed and cringed at the same time. Lurie catches the awful and funny dynamics of the "caregiver/caregetter" relationship in Jane and Alan Mackenzie who leave behind their happy marriage when Alan slips a disc and endures chronic pain.OK, it's not Foreign Affairs, but it's still a great Lurie read. The structure of the novel and its colorful, dramatic characters make it worthy of some praise, though I note that she leaves this one off of her own website.Too bad.

4-0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable but insightful novel of the collapse of a marriage

Alan and Jane Mackensie, who both work at the same university, had been happily married for fifteen years. But then he developed chronic, agonising back pain, which he describes as "like a lizard in my back." It changes him, and is ruining both their lives and their relationship.

At the start of the novel, after fifteen months of unsuccessful treatments, Jane shocks herself when she sees her husband of sixteen years and at first fails to recognise him. She is further shocked as she realises that, against her will, she is coming to resent the amount of time she has to spend caring for him. Meanwhile Alan is coming to resent being dependent on her.

And then another couple come to the University. Delia Delany is famous for her writing and her beauty and charm; her husband Henry Hull, appears to be cynical and demanding. At first Alan and Jane dislike the newcomers.

But it transpires that behind her bohemian facade Delia, like Alan, suffers a great deal of pain (in her case from migraines). Suddenly Alan finds that he is sharing with Delia the experiences of a fellow victim of a painful illness - and Jane that she has in common with Henry the experiences of a spouse attempting to support a partner through chronic pain.

Soon the lives of all four of them are turned upside down and both marriages are in danger ...

A cleverly crafted and powerful novel which touches on some sensitive subjects including how pain can destroy lives and marriages.

4-0 out of 5 stars Creative Licence vs. Traditional Happiness
This story is about the allure, the costs, and the distortions that are part and parcel of pursing a life of creative genius vs. the security and mundane happiness of socially sanctioned traditional lifestyles.

Lurie gives us a story structure that is very simple:We have four people, two couples.The story starts off with AN EVENT / AN INJURY that shifts the normal flow of life for couple #1. Then couple #2 arrives and provides the possibility of new paths.

The simplicity of all of this is where Laurie's genius comes in: who will choose which path?When it comes to this question we focus primarily on the decisions to be made by couple #1.Underlying their options are the costs and benefits of the choices.Will she give up her traditional values in order to try and obtain a happiness that she thought she had but has been taken away from her? And is that traditional happiness really available or is it just an illusion?Can he come to understand the potential value of living in pain is that it can be a tool to see the world in a new way and that can help release his creative capacity?Or will he spiral further into dependency, depression and discontent?

The creative answer seems logical for the male-half of couple #1 -- but there is a price to pay.You cannot have the security of tradition if you want to truly explore the full range of creativity. To be creative, by definition, suggests you are pushing the limits of tradition. (ie: it requires pain.)The female-half of couple #2 shows him the new path but she is no one to rely on. She has no traditional moral compass. She indulges herself in every whim, manipulates everyone around her and cares for no one but herself. She explains her actions saying she must live for her work alone and she must do only that which furthers her work. But that is the point--you can't have or provide security and un-harnessed creativity at the same time.Ironically in the end her need for traditional security looks to have won out--until the final scene when she explains her latest actions and intentions.And of course her explanation only puts on display the fact that she will not be hampered by traditional morality.Wasn't it Woody Allen who claimed that his genius exempted him from traditional morality?

This is all interwoven and juxtaposed to the wife of couple #1 who fights her imprinted belief that she should stand by her man, no matter what cost to herself.That she must save her marriage--and that she can save her marriage through her own focused force of will. Yes, she slips into a forbidden relationship but as a result she feels tremendous guilt.She must fight her desire, her guilt and her self, while she tries to find a path to being "a good woman" and finding a secure future.

Of course there is a lot more that goes on--but these are the underlying battles of the tale as it unfolds.In the end she (of couple #1) up-holds a large part of her identity and gets a cozy predictable future (assuming one believes in happily ever after). And in the end he (of couple #1) has no idea what the future will bring but has moved far down the path of creative license.

It is a great battle that should be written about more. What are the costs of an unfettered creative life and the costs of holding too tightly to tradition?Lurie scratches the surface here--and in the process puts in a few of her own opinions using irony and satire a plenty.But even with this great debate going on under the story line the story is thin.So people who just want a good read / story will probably be disappointed --and people who want this debate fleshed-out will also feel the caloric intake is weak. But for me Lurie gets good marks for bringing up the topic in the first place.

3-0 out of 5 stars Delia makes the novel fun (3.5* really)
"Truth and Consequences" is an honest portrayal of the unraveling of a marriage after one spouse becomes a caregiver for the other. Some marriages would have survived, so the question becomes why did this particular marriage unravel. I believe too much of the previous success of the marriage was because both partners had been a "good catch" for each other.The husband is self centered, but the wife is also calculating and superficial in her way.

What makes the novel fun to read, and more than merely competent, is the character of Delia Delaney.She is an egoist, emotionally crippled by her upbringing, yet she hasvitality, warmth and charisma and can be very insightful, so she ends up doing more good than harm, promoting one man's artistic talent, and fostering a successful relationship between two other superficially very different people (the economist and the administrative assistant).
... Read more

7. The War Between the Tates
by Alison Lurie
 Paperback: 350 Pages (1991-01)
list price: US$8.95
Isbn: 0380711354
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars Awah Gotcha BOOM BOOM!
I read this book when I was fifteen, and I was appalled at the heavy-handed way Lurie heaps scorn on virtually ALL the characters. Hippies, academics, and housewives, all seem to rate as easy joke material for her, but she never explains why. I also felt that she comes across as callous and self-righteous in the way she gloats over all the misery her make believe people suffer. If you read a classic like DEAD SOULS by Gogol you see some mean, petty people -- but Gogol doesn't laugh at them for suffering, only for being foolish. Lurie doesn't get how satire works.

Getting to the specifics -- a reviewer above made an interesting point. Given that Erica Tate is described (over and over) as a stunning beauty, it is awfully odd that when Brian leaves her the only man she can find to hang out with is uber-dweeb Zed. This guy makes Woody Allen look like Bruce Willis! Similarly, Professor Brian Tate is such a pompous little twerp that it's difficult to imagine even the most depraved and lustful hippie chick throwing herself at him.

Lurie knows less than nothing about the Sixties youth culture she intends to "satirize." At one point Brian catches his daughter listening to a "Stones record" and the chorus of the song supposedly goes "awah gotcha BOOM BOOM!"

Listen to every Stones album from "England's Newest Hit Makers" to "Get Yer Ya Ya's Out" and you will never find this song. Why couldn't the lady have done some homework? Either that or taken five seconds to make up a pretend rock group, perhaps with an oh-so-clever "satirical" name like the Ugly Brutes or something?

Another problem, given that Wendy is supposed to be a nubile hippie chick, and Brian a staid professor, the sex scenes should have been a lot steamier than they were. All things considered, Lurie totally underestimated the hippy generation, its staying power, determination, and so forth. The Stones are still rolling, thirty years later, but no one is reading this book.

Awah gotcha BOOM BOOM!

4-0 out of 5 stars Still great after all these years
This novel seems to be out of print again and is hard to find even in second hand stores. This is a shame because the breakup of the marriage of the prim professor Brian and his wife Erica is a fine and subtly humorous novel. The novel is set in the Vietnam era as a background to the campus setting, but it is also is part of the atmosphere that leads to a seachange in the lives of all the characters.

Brian passively allows himself to be drawn into an cheesy, self serving affair with a nubile student. One of the novels digs at colleges of the sixties is that the girl is barely literate, which is apparently no impediment to being a graduate student.

Erica, who has been a demure and dutiful wife has an intellect as sharp as her professor husband She is less than happy with the situation, but is determined to put Brain's feet to the fire on this issue. She also finds that with Brian out of the house she is able to deal with the many annoyances imposed on her by herprissy spouse, such as his insistence that she does not work on campus.

Less pleasant are her two teen children who are cleverly likened to the South Vietnamese of the day, dependant for aid on people they resent and herweedy, weird college friend Sandy, the only male available to spend time with her. Lurie's description of events are smart, satirical and just plain funny. Most importantly this is novel about change and the need and the inevitablity of moving forward.

5-0 out of 5 stars smart, funny, sad
This was the first novel by Alison Lurie that I've read and it made a deep impression. It is very witty and humorous as are all her works but it is among the darkest. It's fine enough to have gotten the Pulitzer except that the direction of the author's sarcasm would, I imagine, be a downer for the prize-determiners. Happily Foreign Affairs, which got the Pulitzer, directs its sarcasm more across the board, for instannce at the interactions between Brits and Americans; this time the fact that the two protagonists are English professors is evidently forgivable.

All her fiction is interesting, but here is what I like best, aside from the two aforementioned novels: The Truth About Lorin Jones, The Nowhere City, Imaginary Friends.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dissection of the soul
This is my favorite novel by Lurie.I love Alison Lurie because she is a genius at studying the psychology of her characters.In this book, both Tates are dissected and their thoughts analyzed, verbalized and explained to full clarity, and this makes them so easy to understand, and therefore to love or hate.My favorite part of the whole book is when Erica starts measuring the pros and cons of something in her head.Lurie is so structured in her analysis, it's almost impossible not to follow her thread.Moreover, this novel analyzes the disintegration of a marriage, and the dynamics and motivations are so universal and so timeless that they can be applied to the 60's or to the 00's alike.

3-0 out of 5 stars Well-drawn characters; entertaining novel set in academia
The first half of this book shows a horribly plausible example of a middle aged marriage falling apart at the seams, due to chance happenings. The psychology of the husband, Brian Tate, is thoroughly and sympatheticallyexamined - he looks like a success, but his own self-view is verydifferent. This, and the great feeling of the palce and period (1969) arethe strengths of this novel.

Its weaknesses are that it gets lessconvincing towards the end, and the author's rather simplistic femanismgets the better of her, particularly when pontificating on malerelationships.

Overall, not one of her best, but still a good read. ... Read more

8. Don't Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children's Literature
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 256 Pages (1998-07-20)
list price: US$16.99 -- used & new: US$8.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316246255
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In sixteen spirited essays, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alison Lurie, who is also one of our wittiest and most astute cultural commentators, explores the world of children's literature--from Lewis Carroll to Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain to Beatrix Potter--and shows that the best-loved children's books tend to challenge rather than uphold respectable adult values. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars more books like this please..
Good book for introducing you, and your kids, to the kinds of authors that should be read by both you and your kids. While the book suggests attention to subversive literature (and in many ways it is), it delves in more depth in the lives of the authors, in terms of what shaped them to write their classics, than in the nature of the literature itself. Nevertheless, this remains an important, and terribly interesting, book that will shed light on some classic tales (as well as, perhaps, question some of our basic assumptions about these stories). Worth the read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Good children book author = crazy?
After reading this book, one might think that to be a good children book writer, one needs to be somewhat disfunctional in adult society!
All the chapters in the book are very interesting, with biographical data about the authors themselves. This book also introduces many classic children book titles, some of which I read later and enjoyed.
Lurie's remarks are always very intelligent and realistic, and it is a pleasure to read her commentary. The purpose of the book is not to tell which books are subversive, nor which books you should buy for your children. Instead it says which titles have survived through the ages and continue to be popular among children, even if they are somewhat dated, and some of the author's explanations as for why.

4-0 out of 5 stars What your child should read and why.....
A collection of essays - in some ways uneven - covering a wide range of children's literature and so-called children's authors. The biographies are intriguing and combined with Ms Luries's wit and scholarship, the book makes for an excellent introduction to the theme.
The word "subversive" in the title may be a little misleading - "the great books that bridge the gap between infant reading and adult reading" might be a better title but not nearly as catchy!

4-0 out of 5 stars solid examination of classic children's literature
In this excellent overview, Lurie points out the subtle ways that many classic children's authors such as Barrie, Burnett, Milne, Nesbit, and Carroll embedded social criticism within their stories.Lurie has a smooth, intelligent style, and a refreshing dry wit that sets this book apart from much literary criticism.My only complaint is that I would have preferred a bit more focus on the subversive texts themselves, rather than on the life stories of their authors; but then, I'm not too fond of biographical criticism as a whole.All in all, highly recommended. ... Read more

9. Love and Friendship
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 358 Pages (1997-07-31)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$22.52
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000H2MYI2
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Faculty wife Emily Stockwell Turner is beautiful, rich, and principled. However, five years in a marriage devoid of passion is enough to propel Emmy, despite her principles, into an affair with silver-tongued Will Thomas, a self-confessed libertine. The shocking, unforeseen consequences of their affair shatter Emmy's most cherished delusions about friendship, romance, and the ties that bind. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Dealing with Ideas
Emmy's son Freddy is in nursery school.She falls out of love with her husband.Her husband, Holman Turner, is an instructor at Convers College.Previously Emmy always found herself in Convers or at Convers College in the summer.Members of her family thought of the place as their spiritual home.A Mrs. Rabbage arrives at the house to clean.Houses owned by the college are rented out to the faculty in accordance with rank.Holman and Emmy are able to afford to rent on their own since Emmy has her own investment-derived income.Too, they have two cars.The couple makes a ceremony of the cocktail hour.

The Humanities C course at Convers is famous.All incoming instructors are compelled to teach it and freshman are compelled to take it.Holman wants to discover the inner power politics of the course and of his department.He is equipped since he understands the Socratic method.Hum C reminds Emmy of Emerson's "Self-Reliance".Emmy's family, the Stockwells, are college donors and all of the men of the family attend the school.

The climate of Convers has been described as worse than Edinburgh.Holman and Emmy attend a party at the Fenns' house.Julian and Miranda are not ready for their guests.Their children, Charles, Richard, and Katie, have let the cat, Hecate, indoors and she has made a mess.At dinner Holman realizes that both he and Miranda have moved up in terms of social class.Emmy and Miranda become friends and Emmy visits Miranda in order to escape from the talkative Mrs. Rabbage.The old stove at the Fenns' house causes a fire.The college stands to lose money since the house is not properly insured.It is maintained the family is at fault and Julian's rudeness leads to his loss of employment at Convers.

Julian Fenn and the others have been told that they are at Convers to deal with ideas.A friend tells Emmy that she has imaginary scruples and guilts that she has picked up from her husband.It is improper, the instructors of Hum C are told, to incite students to take action.

The author uses dialogue, other conventional means, and an epistolary device to drive the story.It is droll fare.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amherst College in the 1950's, Perfectly Portrayed
I just finished reading this book which was published forty years ago. I love the book because it is a preternaturally accurate and insightful portrayal of Amherst College as it existed in the mid-1950s. I know because I was a student at Amherst in the class of '57. There are many characters who are instantly identifiable as real people at Amherst, such as James Merrill and the renowned (or infamous) professor Theodore Baird ["Oswald McBain"]. I don't know how enjoyable the book will be for readers without an Amherst connection. But for me, it's wonderful, because I disliked Amherst College as much as many of the novel's major characters do, and as Alison Lurie herselfobviously did when she was there, married to an English instructor. I'm happy because, when my classmates and I are gone, posterity will remember Amherst as I knew it and as Ms. Lurie has depicted it. Ah, redemption!

5-0 out of 5 stars Amherst College in the 1950's, Perfectly Portrayed
I just finished reading this book which was published forty years ago. I love the book because it is a preternaturally accurate and insightful portrayal of Amherst College as it existed in the mid-1950s. I know because I was a student at Amherst in the class of '57. There are many characters who are instantly identifiable as real people at Amherst, such as James Merrill and the renowned (or infamous) professor Theodore Baird ["Oswald McBane"]. I don't know how enjoyable the book will be for readers without an Amherst connection. But for me, it's wonderful, because I disliked Amherst College as much as many of the novel's major characters do, and as Alison Lurie herself obviously did when she was there, married to an English instructor. I'm happy because, when my classmates and I are gone, posterity will remember Amherst as I knew it and as Ms. Lurie has depicted it. Ah, redemption!

4-0 out of 5 stars Engrossing novel of love and adultary
Alison Lurie hasn't the greatest of ranges as a writer, but is top rate at what she does. This is a good example of her writing, perhaps not as good as "Foreign Affairs" or "Lorin Jones", but well worth reading.

Like most of Ms. Lurie's novels, this one has a great sense of place (New England), characters you can care about and periodic flashes of humour. It's not exactly set in academia (cf. "The War Between the Tates"), but a New England university is at the centre of the novel. The almost mystical relationship betweeen Convers College and its graduates / staff is beautifully evoked, as are some of the petty bitching between its academics. By the end of the novel, I felt I'd been there.

2-0 out of 5 stars Reader in Seattle
I began reading Ms. Lurie's collection with her most recent "The Last Resort", which I enjoyed. I then decided to read preceding books like "The Nowhere City" and then "Love and Friendship". Nowhere City wasn't bad, but had pretty much the same characters and circumstances as The Last Resort but just in a different setting. As for Love and Friendship, it has taken me quite awhile to get through the book. I must say that I am happy to see Ms. Lurie grow in her writing but for goodnes sake write about something else than a professor and a wife in a marriage gone bad and extra-marrital affairs. Every book is the same. I would recommend choosing one of her books, particularly the later editions, and not read any others because they aren't any different. ... Read more

10. Paare
by Alison Lurie
Hardcover: 308 Pages (2008)

Isbn: 3257066694
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11. Imaginary Friends
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 293 Pages (1998-01-31)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$17.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B000H2N39G
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Foreign Affairs, here's a devastatingly funny look at the foibles of modern times. Two sociology professors take up the study of a small religious cult, and the ensuing chaos wreaks havoc on the two men's lives and careers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mass Hysteria
The more things change, as they say.... In fact, the only items that feel dated about this wonderful book (first published in 1967) is, one, that to make a phone call you need to find a booth and, two, that a cup of coffee only costs a dime (oh yes, and maybe the ubiquity of jello salads). The force of a charismatic figure on group dynamics -- and in this case of two competing charismatic figures -- remains just as timely today.

Tom McMann, with his oversized but wobbly reputation, sense of grievance, and booming voice, brings his younger colleague from the Sociology Dept. of the upstate NY university (probably Cornell) where both teach, to infiltrate and study the internal conflicts of a cult, ironically styled "The Seekers of Truth." The Seekers, under the guidance of the pre-Raphaelite teenage beauty Verena Roberts, expect immediate intervention from a crew of Varnians, ectomorphic creatures from outer space led by the god Ro. The situation is ripe for comedy in Lurie's expert hands. McMann and Roberts compete for the soul of our narrator, the hapless junior prof Roger Zimmern, who finds himself alternately in the grip of respect for the great man and lust for the lovely girl. As these two characters become more and more vivid, Roger becomes more and more effaced and uncertain. The effect is both realistic and hilarious.

But there is also a serious side, for the novel raises interesting questions about the extent to which researchers in social science can ever "observe" a social situation that they have joined with dispassion and objectivity -- exploring something like the equivalent of a social science Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The belief that one can stand above this sort of problem turns out to be a kind of madness.

5-0 out of 5 stars Before Heaven's Gate
The problem is that two sociologists, one junior, the narrator, Roger Zimmern, and one senior, Thomas McMann, are to study a religious group.The group is isolated.The beliefs of the group are unusual.Lurie's academic story is funny.

Roger goes out to the town, Sophis, New York, (sophisticated?), to reconoitre.He stays at Ovid's Motel.He is not supposed to disclose to group members his identity and his interest.It seems a girl with the name Verena is the main channel to a celestial realm, Varna.Varnians are not clothed in the flesh.Beings, Ro and Vo, have been identified.

Seeker theology mixes Christian Science, Calvinism, spiritualism, and science fiction.Mass delusions are not the same as individual delusions.Roger visits Verena and the Seekers three times before the arrival of McMann to the scene.The similarities of the nomenclature to Verena Roberts's name are evident.Her automatic writing, the basis of the gathering of the Truth Seekers, began about seven or eight months earlier.

Verena is a college drop out, having moved to Sophis to live with her uncle and aunt while attending college and having become ill. Verena has some kind of ability, some force, Roger concludes.

When McMann arrives the furnace isn't working and McMann assists in fixing it.The Truth Seekers deem the event a sort of miraculous intervention.One of the Seekers outs the professors.Laughably, that member, Ken, is ejected from the group for his unorthodox conduct.The sociologists note that group morale is high.The members have a family-like relationship to each other.They are tolerant.

Whereas Roger believes that Verena has spiritual gifts, McMann sees her as a figure in an Edgar Allan Poe story.When one of the members hits upon a presumably pyramid-style scheme of buying decorations for the home and selling items to group members, Verena stamps out the proposal as amisplaced emphasis on material things.

As things progress, Roger fears Verena is experiencing the disintegration of her personality as she commences to follow an overly restrictive diet and exhibits other oddities of behavior.As the group learns of a scheduled visitation of the Varnians they endeavor to rid themselves of dead animal matter in their diets and wardrobes.Roger finds himself reduced to wearing synthetic puppy dog underwear.When the date of the scheduled visit passes, the group determines that McMann is the embodiment of the Varnian messanger, Ro.The signs were misread.

When Thomas McMann orders the renegade Ken off of the premises, he shoulders a shotgun, precipitating a run-in with the police.Tom is committed to a mental hospital.Visiting him, Roger cannot figure out if he is sane, playing at insanity, or insane.Members of the group visit him.Roger learns that Ken and Verena have moved to New Mexico.

4-0 out of 5 stars spirituality, group delusion and the perils of research
"Imaginary Friends" deals with spirituality, group delusion and the strange flowers of thought blooming in isolated conditions. It takes the old myth of the 'hidden people' and impresses it on a small, benign cult not dissimilar to Heaven's Gate set in an ordinary neighbourhood in an ordinary little town.

Two sociologists join the cult to research small-group phenomena and are increasingly drawn into the interactions and rituals of the cult as events escalate. The Coming is prophesied and tensions rise, culminating in the breakdown of the main researcher and and a lull in the cult's proceedings. Yet, the story continues....

The novel raises valid observations on conducting research and the blurring of lines between observer and participant; the characters are eminently believable, which made this an enjoyable read.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my Lurie favorites
To me, this is a great look at how people fool themselves...the people who want to believe in aliens, and also the people who fool themselves into thinking they can get involved with a group and not interact with it.

With Lurie's sharp eye for character and fine ear for dialogue, it is easy for a reader to get pulled in and immerse themselves in the world she creates. Based on a sociology study of groups who held the same beliefs as the fictional group she creates, I feel Lurie goes beyond the dry academic studies to illuminate what really goes on when people find their most mundane beliefs challenged by the surities of a larger group...such as society at large.

3-0 out of 5 stars What separates faith from psychosis?
The is a story of two sociologists who embark upon a research project to infiltrate and observe a small cult which claims to be in contact with higher beings from outerspace.Instead of focusing too much on the exact identities of the members of the cult itself and its somewhat ridiculous belief system, the story hones in on the reactions and behaviors of the two sociologists who try (with varying degrees of sucess and failure) to participate "non-directively" in the group. Each researcher finds himself struggling (consciously or not) with the ideas of how much of group belonging can determine identity, and how much identity which emmanates from within can influence the group identity.

It's not clear by the end of the story just what separates faith and determination from delusions of grandeur and compulsion. But it was this question, not the story itself, that remained in my mind long after I finished the book. ... Read more

12. The Heavenly Zoo: Legends and Tales of the Stars (Sunburst Book)
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: Pages (1996-03)
list price: US$6.95
Isbn: 0374429278
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Sixteen legends of the constellations and how they got their names, taken from such varied sources as ancient Greece, Babylon, Egypt, Sumeria, the Bible, Norway, the Balkans, Indonesia, and the American Indians. ... Read more

13. Alison Lurie (Twayne's United States Authors Series)
by Richard Hauer Costa
 Hardcover: 126 Pages (1992-03)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0805776346
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14. Poems and Plays. With a memoir by Alison Lurie.
by V. R. (Edward Gorey) Lang
 Hardcover: Pages (1975)

Asin: B003WMH7BI
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15. Only Children
by Alison Lurie
 Paperback: Pages (1990-04)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$5.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0380708752
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of America's Finest Writers at her Best
"Only Children" is unusual among Alison Lurie's work in that, whereas most of herother novels have a contemporary setting, it is a period piece set in 1935. Like "Real People" it describes a group of people spending a midsummer break in a rural retreat in the north-eastern USA. Anna King, the headmistress of "Eastwind", a progressive school, has invited two couples, the parents of two of her pupils, to spend a long weekend with her at her farmhouse in upstate New York. The two nine-year-old girls, Mary Ann Hubbard and Lolly Zimmern (the future Lorin Jones of "The Truth About...."), are the best of friends. Relations between the adults, however, are more complex.

At the beginning of the novel, Mary Ann's parents Bill and Honey, Lolly's parents Dan and Celia, and Anna do indeed seem friendly. Anna has invited the two families to stay with her in the hope that Bill will agree to serve on Eastwind's board of governors where his financial and administrative expertise will be greatly valued. (He is a senior Government bureaucrat). As the book progresses, however, we learn that Dan Zimmern and Honey Hubbard are conducting an adulterous affair with one another; Celia has her suspicions but Bill seems blithely unaware of his wife's infidelity. We also learn that, some fifteen years earlier, Dan and Anna were lovers and that he still harbours hopes of renewing their relationship.

The title "Only Children" has two meanings. On the one hand, it refers to Mary Ann and Lolly, both of whom are the only children of their parents' marriages, although Lolly has an older half-brother Leonard from her father's first marriage. (Leonard Zimmern- in adult life a prominent literary critic- is a character who appears in a number of Lurie's novels. He appears here as a moody, truculent teenager reluctantly spending a holiday with his father, stepmother and kid sister, but does not play an important part in the story).

On the other hand, the title also refers to the four parents, who are "only children" in the sense that they behave childishly, with frequent petty squabbles breaking out. Each of them is childish in his or her own way. Dan, a successful advertising executive, is a handsome but irresponsible playboy. Honey is a spoilt Southern belle used to getting her own way. They are in many ways similar in character, so their attraction to one another is understandable, especially as neither Celia nor Bill makes a particularly attractive partner. Celia, a weak, insipid woman, is Dan's second wife and, like many second wives, is haunted by the thought that her husband will treat her in the same way as he treated his first. Bill is a dry, dull man and a compulsive workaholic (he spends most of the weekend break poring over work from his office). To make matters worse he is also a fanatical and blinkered Communist, forever regaling Mary Ann with stories of how much better life is in Stalin's Russia than in the USA.(Honey never directly contradicts her husband about politics, but it is clear that she still retains the conservative social attitudes of her privileged Southern background- she insists, for example, on employing a black maid).

Although this is a third-person narrative, much of the story is seen as if through the eyes of the children. Alison Lurie would herself have been nine years old in 1935, so there may be some element of autobiography. Both Mary Ann and Lolly are intelligent but innocent of many of the concerns of adult life, especially sex, and Lurie uses their innocent world-view to comment on the doings of the adult characters. (It is difficult to imagine modern-day nine-year-olds being quite as naïve as those of the thirties). Bill's extremist political opinions, for example, are satirised by being presented to us through the eyes of his half-comprehending daughter. The children's views of the sexual obsessions of their elders and betters may be based on ignorance, but they also mean that it is difficult for the reader to take those obsessions altogether seriously. Sex- and some other things to which grown-ups attach importance- are just adult games, with no more significance than childish ones.

Lolly and Mary Ann are not only intelligent, but also sensitive and imaginative (especially Lolly, as befits a famous artist of the future), and there are many delightful and refreshing views of the world as seen from a child's perspective. Clouds look lie whipped cream, Virginia creepers become old women, the name Mussolini (misheard by Mary Ann as Mousy Leena) leads into an elaborate story about a mouse princess. In their imagination the girls are themselves princesses- a surprisingly reactionary fantasy for the children of self-proclaimed progressive parents. The book reminded me strongly of H E Bates's "The Distant Horns of Summer", another book in which the adult world is seen through the eyes of a sensitive and intelligent child.

"Only Children" displays many of the qualities which have made Alison Lurie one of my favourite authors- a sharp wit, intelligence, a fluent prose style and penetrating observation of human nature. It shows us one of America's finest writers at her best.

I did, however, spot one mistake. In 1935, Strasbourg was not part of Germany, as the author implies. It had been returned to France under the Treaty of Versailles which ended the First World War.
... Read more

16. Clever Gretchen and Other Forgotten Folktales
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 130 Pages (2005-04-26)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$3.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0595345212
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Sleeping beauties? Not Clever Gretchen or Kate Crackernuts or Manka or any of the other young heroines in this wonderful collection of folktales. Active, witty, brave, and resourceful, these girls and young women can fight and hunt, defeat giants, answer riddles, outwit the Devil, and rescue friends and family from all sorts of dangers and evil spells. These stories and many others like them were gathered by scholars from all the countries of Europe, but are usually left out of the popular collections of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when women were supposed to be beautiful, innocent, and passive. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Have loved this book for twenty five years
I still have this book, a Christmas present from 25 years ago. Not only did this slim little book tell interesting stories, it told them *well*. So many well-meaning authors talked down to the reader or simply retold hero stories with a girl in the traditional masculine role. These stories have the weight of the oral tradition behind them-- they did spring out of real cultures, not just second wave feminist minds-- and the women in them save the day in many ways, from swords to smarts to stubborn determination to hold on no matter what. Another aspect I love is that these women are brave for themselves as well as for families, for lovers-- and, in Kate Crackernuts' tale (one of my favorites)--for step-sisters. It's easy to say "sisterhood is powerful", but it's special to find a story where it really is. I hope this book gets republished, it really is a lovely collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars And the winner is....
Really- it sounds like a plain boring book- but it's not! No, From original stories like Clever Gretchen to Twisted ones like the sleeping prince or Mollie Whippie- it had all that and a bag of potatoes. My favourite was Kate Crackernuts. Then came the Sleeping Prince, next Manka and the Judge.
All of the tales are of strong women who outwit, set straight, and save the "Man's" world from GIANTS,bugurlers,enchanted sleeps (what did you think the sleeping prince was about?) and other horrible creatures.
THis book is a must- but you might understand the wording a little better if you're a pre-teen or teenager.Enjoy it, I did! ... Read more

17. The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales (Oxford Books of Prose)
Paperback: 480 Pages (2003-05-15)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$18.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0192803832
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The stories of magic and transformation that we call fairy tales are one of the oldest known forms of literature, and also one of the most popular and enduring.While most people think of the fairy tale as having come into existence almost magically long ago, they are in fact still being created. And while they are principally directed to children and have child protagonists, these modern fairy tales, like the classics, have messages to those of all ages. In The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales, editor Alison Lurie collects such modern stories of the late nineteenth century up to the present. Here are trolls and princesses, magic and mayhem, morals to be told and lessons to be learned--all the elements of the classic fairy tale, in new and marvelous stories. Including the works of Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, George MacDonald, Mary De Morgan, H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, Joan Aiken, Carl Sandburg, Angela Carter, James Thurber, Louise Erdrich, and many more, here is a treasury of tales that, though set in an unreal and irrelevant universe, have much to tell us about the real world in which we live. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars typical oxford
There is a wide variety of writing styles in this collection although it should be noted there is an emphasis on British authors until you reach the more contemporary tales. It is also a little outdated, cutting just short of the sudden wave of contemporary fairy tale writers from the 1990s.

Also, this may not be an ideal collection for children for a few reasons: the vocabulary from some tales is likely to be difficult, most children will not grasp/enjoy the more modern narrative structures and some parents may object to the overt sexual content in some of the tales.

5-0 out of 5 stars A marvellous collection of tales.
Alison Lurie, whose brilliant book "Don't Tell the Grownups" demonstrates both her knowledge of and insight into children's literature, has done a wonderful job of collecting fairy tales from the 19th Century all the way up to the present, including authors such as Dickens, Thurber, and Le Guin. Anyone familiar with Lang's "Prince Prigio" will wish it had been included, but the other tales more than compensate for its absence.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales
This book is a comprehensive of 19thCentury up to today of fairy tales. It is a great buy because of all the stories you get for your money. It has all the fairy tales we have loved throughout the ages. It is great to giveto your children. ... Read more

18. Fabulous Beasts
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 32 Pages (1999-09-10)
list price: US$5.95 -- used & new: US$9.11
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374422540
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A bestiary of amazing animals. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book for the Imagination
This is an amazing book on mythical creatures for kids and adults alike.There are many beautiful, fully coloured illustrations of many different creatures.There is a lot of information and a lot of creatures that the typical kid has never heard of before. ... Read more

19. The Truth about Lorin Jones
by Alison Lurie
Paperback: 294 Pages (1993)

Isbn: 0349100667
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (12)

3-0 out of 5 stars Romantic Comedy
Alison Lurie is a great storyteller, and here she has a thought-provoking and interesting theme: the temptations of a biographer to identify too closely with her subject. Polly Alter, the biographer, is alternately drawn to excuse the woman artist, Lorin (alternatively Laura, Lolly, Laurie) Jones, even to glorify her -- or to blame her as a devouring and selfish narcissist. Just as Lorin has many names, so she also has many identities, and the "true" one remains elusive.

Beneath this complexity, however, lies some simplicity, even stereotyping -- especially of New York City feminist/lesbian culture. Yes, it's funny, but sometimes in a cheap-shot sort of way.

Still, because the humor is self-deprecating, it is finally forgiveable even if a blemish on the novel. This remains a very pleasureable book to read and a romance, in many senses.

3-0 out of 5 stars two plot line, one well done.
There are two interweaving plot lines to this novel: the gradual uncovering of the truth about Lorin Jones, and the personal life of the investigator, Polly Alter.The former is fun and fascinating, and the characters met along the way (except for the last) are well drawn.The latter is heavy handed, and not up to Lurie's usual level of writing.Also, Polly's failed marriage is nicely summed up by her (p.118):"Both of us were fools, trusting people to whom in the end we didn't mean all that much".Yet, that statement notwithstanding, the failure is cast entirely in feminist terms.

The most moving part of the novel is the letter from Lorin Jones' childhood friend who recognizes the title of one of Lorin's paintings.This brings back all sorts of positive memories, but then the friend learns that Lorin Jones is dead.

1-0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time!!
What is the point of this book? Couldn't figure out if it was trying to be a lesbian push or a bisexual push or just what. And what the heck was the ending?

Is Alison Lurie a man hater? Couldn't tell that either. Polly, the main character, acts as if all men are not to be trusted. I had a wonderful father and am married to a wonderful man, so when Polly starts talking about men as if they were all alike, it makes me wary. Would I like to be lumped in with all the women who are worthless and nasty? I don't think so.

Don't waste your money on this book! I finished it only because I thought there is no way a book could be this bad.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rarely Pure and Never Simple

Polly Alter, a museum curator, has taken a sabbatical from her job in order to write a biography of Lorin Jones (nee Laura Zimmern), a prominent American modernist painter who died in 1969, nearly twenty years before Polly begins work. Polly initially intends to write her life from a feminist viewpoint, showing her as a woman who was used and exploited by the men in her life, by her dealers, by her art-critic husband Garrett Jones, by her lover Hugh Cameron and by the male-dominated art establishment.

As the work progresses, however, and as Polly interviews various people who knew Lorin personally, her views begin to alter. (Her surname has obvious symbolic significance). Another view of Lorin emerges, that of a selfish, eccentric, neurotic genius who behaved badly to both the men and the women in her life. Everyone she speaks to has their own ideas about Lorin, and these conflicting ideas are difficult to reconcile, both with one another and with Polly's original vision. Garrett Jones, for example, may have many faults both as a man and as a husband, but Polly is left in no doubt that he believed sincerely in his wife's talent and used his considerable influence in the art world to promote her work. When Polly eventually meets Cameron, initially without knowing who he is, she realises that he is very different from the picture she had initially formed of him.

Polly's initial view of Lorin as a misunderstood, maltreated feminist heroine is very much conditioned by her own personal circumstances. Polly, who at one time had ambitions to be a painter herself, identifies strongly with Lorin because they have much in common. Both are from New York. Both are the daughters of Jewish fathers and Gentile mothers. They are physically similar, being petite with dark, curly hair. Both have changed their first names (Polly's real name is Paula). Like Lorin, Polly is divorced, and blames her husband (although Lurie suggests that Polly was as much to blame herself). Since the divorce, the strongest influence on Polly's life has been her close friend (and, briefly, lesbian lover) Jeanne, a radical feminist.

Much of the discussion on this board has centred upon whether or not the book is a feminist work, with one reviewer attacking the writer for caricaturing feminism and another stating that she has been criticised as a rabid feminist. Certainly, as with most of Alison Lurie's novels, there is a strong vein of satirical humour in "The Truth about Lorin Jones", and much of this is directed at Jeanne and her circle. Jeanne is portrayed as hypocritical, selfish and manipulative, shamelessly sponging off Polly and using her in much the same way as feminists criticise men for using women. That, however, does not necessarily mean that Lurie is attacking feminism per se. (Some of her other novels, such as "The Nowhere City" and "The Last Resort", have a much more pro-feminist tone). It seems to me that her criticism is directed at a type of radical lesbian separatism, which she sees as having nothing to offer to heterosexual or bisexual women. Several of the male characters are also satirised, especially Garrett Jones, a vain, self-important ageing Lothario (he makes an unsuccessful attempt to seduce Polly), and the camp, bitchy and gossipy art dealer Jacky Herbert.

The book also displays other common characteristics of Lurie's writing. There is always a strong sense of place, whether the action takes place in New York, on a chilly, autumnal Cape Cod (where Polly goes to meet Garrett Jones) or amid the tropical lushness of Key West (where Lorin died and where Cameron still lives). Like Jane Austen, to whom she has sometimes been compared, Lurie has a great ability to suggest a person's character through the use of a telling phrase of seemingly minor detail.

As in other works, Lurie makes use of the device of recurring characters. The child Lorin Jones appears (as Lolly Zimmern) in "Only Children". Lolly's childhood friend from that work, Mary Ann Hubbard, appears here under her married name of Mary Ann Fenn. Lorin's half-brother, the literary critic Leonard Zimmern, appears in several other Lurie novels. In the course of her researches, Polly interviews several characters who first appeared in "Real People", not only Leonard but also Kenneth Foster (Lorin's teacher), Janet Belle Smith (a college friend) and Sally Sachs (fellow artist). Polly and Garrett reappear in Lurie's next novel, "The Last Resort", as does Lee, the owner of the boarding-house where Polly stays in Key West.

What is truth? asked Pontius Pilate. The question was answered by Oscar Wilde, who said that truth is rarely pure and never simple, and that is the basic theme of this book. Each of Polly's interviewees gives her a different perspective on Lorin's character, yet none of them are deliberately telling lies. All tell her what they honestly believe to be the truth. Polly finds that she cannot say "The truth is X" or "The truth is Y" or even "The truth lies somewhere between those two extremes". When we are dealing with something as subjective and changeable as a person's character, there is no such thing as objective truth. One reviewer criticises Alison Lurie for raising but failing to answer interesting questions about art and truth. Perhaps because there are no answers to the questions she raises. That does not, however, mean that she should not ask the questions.

4-0 out of 5 stars Another fine novel by Lurie
Like the other novels by Alison Lurie that I have read this one is both deep and superficial.Lurie writes "multi-level" novels.Much of her diction I find superficial and even sophomoric.Nevertheless she is able to grapple with difficult issues and create believable and gripping characters.I also appreciate that Lurie's novels are not full of slime, perversion, sloppy sex scenes, and so on.I would compare her to writers such as Auchincloss and Marquand.

The Truth about Lorin Jones raises but does not answer interesting questions about art and truth.I also enjoyed the peep into the Manhattan art scene which I assume Lurie has portrayed accurately.Lurie seems to write about what she knows.E.g. much of the novel takes place in Key West where, according to the dust jacket, Lurie spends her winters.Key West is a neat place to visit and Lurie seems to have captured some of its magic.

All in all there is a lot in this book to entertain and engage:Art, truth in biography, Manhattan, Key West, feminism, parenthood, marriage and friendship, and so on.Lurie is never overbearing or didactic, although she does come across as superficial (this is an illusion however IMO).I recommend this novel. ... Read more

20. The Black Geese: A Baba Yaga Folk Tale from Russia
by Alison Lurie
 Paperback: 32 Pages (2000-09-07)
list price: US$12.40 -- used & new: US$72.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0711214441
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Elena's parents have left her to look after her baby brother. She soon tires of this and leaves him to go off to play. When she comes back to find him gone, she realizes that the black geese have carried him off to Baba Yaga, the terrible witch of the forest! ... Read more

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