Four unforgettable characters beckon you into this spellbinding new novel from Sue Miller, the author of 2008's heralded best seller The Senator's Wife. First among them is Wilhelmina Billy Gertz, small as a child, fiercely independent, powerfully committed to her work as a playwright. The story itself centers on The Lake Shore Limited, a play Billy has written about an imagined terrorist bombing of that train as it pulls into Union Station in Chicago, and about a man waiting to hear the fate of his estranged wife, who is traveling on it. Billy had waited in just such a way on 9/11 to hear whether her lover, Gus, was on one of the planes used in the attack.
The novel moves from the snow-filled woods of Vermont to the rainy brick sidewalks of Boston as the lives of the other characters intersect and interweave with Billy's: Leslie, Guss' sister, still driven by grief years after her brothers death; Rafe, the actor who rises to greatness in a performance inspired by a night of incandescent lovemaking; and Sam, a man irresistibly drawn to Billy after he sees the play that so clearly displays the terrible conflicts and ambivalence of her situation.
How Billy has come to create the play out of these emotions, how it is then created anew on the stage, how the performance itself touches and changes the other characters lives - these form the thread that binds them all together and drives the novel compulsively forward.
A powerful love story; a mesmerizing tale of entanglements, connections, and inconsolable losses; a marvelous reflection on the meaning of grace and the uses of sorrow, in life and in art: The Lake Shore Limited is Sue Miller at her dazzling best.
©2010 Sue Miller (P)2010 Random House
"Miller's take on post-9/11 America is fascinating and perfectly balanced with her writerly meditations on the destructiveness of trauma and loss, and the creation and experience of art." (Publishers Weekly)
I would usually reserve 5 stars for something on the order of a Jane Austen or Leo Tolstoy masterpiece, but in this case I'm giving Miller five stars to counter the previously deceptive review that told people not to read this book. It's far more deserving than that, and Sue Miller is an author who knows how to read her own work. If you need fast paced narrative this book may not be for you, and if you don't like intelligent, complex older characters who meditate on their lives - including their moral failures and emotional truths - you might prefer something else. But if you care about how people cope with loss, the amoral aspect of art and drama, the nuances and imbalances in relationships, you might agree with me and Michiko Kakutani (who too often trashes books) that this is Miller's best yet. It's certainly in the category of great novels that deals with the aftershocks of 911. It was certainly worth my time.
I just finished listening to this novel by Sue Miller. I had read some disappointing reviews and was a little hesitant at starting it but I wasn't disappointed. Sue Miller does a great job at reading the novel herself as is often the case for her novels with Audible. I am a fan of Sue Miller and find that every novel that I have read from her so far captures my interest and there is always a new twist on things. This one reads like a mise en abyme where the the central character Billie is a playwright who authored a play inspired by 9-11. Her characters who share a voice in the different chapters include the main actor in the play, Billie herself, her life prior to 9-11 and the lover she lost in that tragedy as well as the family she had then. I highly recommend it!
Another summer much ado about not much. Endless details about everyone's relationship to everyone else, and as a literary hook, how these relationships might or might not hinge on a rather thin play written by one of them. The whole mess is about how one of the characters was not in love with another one who died. Miller reads her own work in a low, slow, often raspy voice that often drops the last two words of a sentence. Although Miller has an amazing grasp of language and the subtleties of human nature, I found myself screaming with boredom internally as I waded through her characters' uninteresting minds. Not much happened, except Miller, I assume, will be making some money this summer.
Wait until it comes to your local public library. Seriously one of the worst books I have read, and not worth the credit or money. Sue MIller has gone off into a world I do not relate to, nor does she give enough reason to try.
I am a fan of Sue Miller and have enjoyed reading and listening to many of her books. This one had gotten luke-warm reviews, so I didn't download it right away. I'm glad I did--the author, not surprisingly, did a wonderful narrating job and the story was interesting--a "play within a play," a 9/11 angle without being overbearing, and several interesting characters that we come to know in increasing depth as the novel progresses. Highly recommended.
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