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CompleteMartialArts.com - Winner of the National Book Award: A Novel of Fame, Honor, and Really Bad Weather


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Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5Average rating of 4.0/5

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Binding: Hardcover
Format: Bargain Price
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 336
Publication Date: 2003-10-01

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Editorial Reviews:

Winner of the National Book Award, the long-awaited novel from the author of the acclaimed collection, Jenny and the Jaws of Life, is an unusual and wonderful novel that is somehow able to be at once bleak and hilarious, light-hearted and profound.

It's the story of two sisters. Abigail Mather is a woman of enormous appetites, sexual and otherwise. Her fraternal twin Dorcas couldn't be more different: she gave up on sex without once trying it, and she lives a controlled, dignified life of the mind. Though Abigail exasperates Dorcas, the two love each other; in fact, they complete each other. They are an odd pair, set down in an odd Rhode Island town, where everyone has a story to tell, and writers, both published and unpublished, carom off each other like billiard balls.

What is it that makes the two women targets for the new man in town, the charming schlockmeister Conrad Lowe, tall, whippet-thin and predatory? In Abigail and Dorcas he sees a new and tantalizing challenge. Not the mere conquest of Abigail, with her easy reputation, but a longer and more sinister game. A game that will lead to betrayal, shame and, ultimately, murder.

In her darkly comic and unsettling first novel, Jincy Willett proves that she is a true find: that rare writer who can explore the shadowy side of human nature with the lightest of touches.
(10/10/2003)


Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Refreshing, Sharp, Very Well Written
Comment: I really liked this book. It was at times funny, at times sad, and always, always interesting. There were some of those killer insights that make you stop and say, "oh yes" and the story had an almost mythic quality to it. I think that's because it begins in a hurricane and ends in a blizzard, and of course, features twins who are externally very different, but awfully similar on the inside. I found the characters very real, and thought the samples from Abigail's book were often hilarious. And the whole food-books-sex theme made for a great set of contrasts.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Captivating Black Humor
Comment: The clincher for me is when starving-to-the-point-of-psychotic Abigail flambes the evil passed out Conrad in his own Calvados then turns to her sister Dorcas and says: "Let's eat him." Brilliant. I almost wished she had. Very much looking forward to the next novel. So much so that I'll even buy it in hard cover.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5Average rating of 3/5
Summary: Entertaining but too weird
Comment: I had no trouble finishing this book. It was moderately entertaining but never engrossing. The characters were so extreme that relating to them or feeling empathy for them was nearly impossible. Conrad, Hilda and Guy were so unlikeable I hoped for their demise early in the book. There were some funny moments but many more weird, disjointed, incomprehensible moments. The decriptions of New Englanders made me laugh out loud. All in all, it's not a terrible book and if you're curious...go ahead and read it. Otherwise, there are other books more worthwhile.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Ferociously Funny!
Comment: This book has the single best opening sentence I've ever read in any book anywhere. That's saying a lot, because I have a classical education, and I'm a freelance editor. What's more, the book gets better and lives up to the electrifying excitement the opening line inspired in me. Read this book, and give copies of it as gifts. This is a book to proselytize about!

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: A very subtle psychology...written for a New Englander
Comment: Yes I think psychology is the key to this book's success. The author knows people, knows their foibles, their habits, their suspicions and their strengths. This satirical story of two fraternal twin sisters, Dorcas and Abigail Mather, studies the incredible opposites that can come from the same source. Dorcas is a bookworm librarian who shuns sex, and Abigail, though just as intelligent, becomes the "town pump" and has a series of marriages that culminate in marriage to the evil writer, Conrad.

Jincy Willet, in the voice of her protagonist Dorcas , often comes across cynical and sad, but it is the moments of revelation and admiration of others that stand out. Even better are her often ironic juxtapositions and innovations of novel format, such as repeated use of italicized phrases, a la Dave Barry (though not as slapstick). It is not a humor novel, but it has some moments. The funniest parts, at least for me, having grown up in Massachusetts not far from Rhode Island, are the observations of normal behavior in that region. Dorcas is from a WASP family, and though she is too wise even as a child to feel like a snob, she is amused by the second-generation kids from Italian and Portugese families who can't understand her. "Say summatime" they ask her. She says, "Summertime." Elsewhere she observes that, it's not that New Englanders in general don't notice other people's concerns, they just won't give you the Satisfaction of Knowing they do. But even later, in the climax of the story, she is genuinely grateful for this pretense of unconcern - she loves Rhode Islanders - when she must face a very private struggle over what has happened with Abigail's messy, violent marriage.

This is a book for people who love and are amused by other people, in spite of their faults. It deals with the one truly rotten apple to enter the sister's lives, and so doing becomes a parallel challenge to each reader to live their lives intelligently, with honor. Abigail's honor is only reclaimed through tragedy. The story is less interesting than the telling of it, not melodramatic, but still inventive and playful. A worthwhile read for students of human nature.



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