Real People

A Novel
Narrated by: Lesa Wilson
Length: 4 hrs and 41 mins
Categories: Fiction, Contemporary
3.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

At an artistic Garden of Eden, one writer finds that serpents lurk in every corner.

The mansion is called Illyria, but for the writers and artists who flock there each summer, it may as well be paradise. Away from family, friends, and ordinary responsibilities, the creative spirit can flower, nurtured by the company of other artistic souls. Janet Belle Smith's husband doesn't understand why she can't write at home - or really, for that matter, why she must write at all - but for Janet, the reason is clear. Only in Illyria can she be herself.

But as the writer mingles with her fellow artists - including a Marxist novelist, a Beat poet, a wild-man sculptor - she begins to fear that the "real" her isn't who she expected, and Illyria is not the peaceful kingdom it appears to be. This creative paradise is rotting from inside out, and if Janet doesn't move quickly, she'll be trapped in the rubble when the walls come tumbling down.

©1969 Alison Lurie (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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Other reviewers have loved it, me ... not so much

The audio sample seemed well done, and I was curious about writers' colonies, so I figured I'd apply an expiring credit towards this one. The only work I'd read of Lurie's I'd read, I liked, though it was non-fiction: Familiar Spirits: A Memoir of James Merrill and David Jackson.

Initially, the book held promise with its description of the grounds, staff and attendees. Then, the soap-opera-like tone set in, where I had trouble keeping the characters apart, not really liking any of them, including the protagonist. Had this been a library book, I might've thrown in the towel, but it's relatively short, and well written, so I persevered. The final scene made a good point, but honestly, I felt it rather a slog getting there.

Audio narration fit well, no complaints on that score.

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Lurie Bares the Bones of the Writing Life

Without making comparisons between real and fictional retreats and their temporary or long term residents, many names both of institutions and creative souls are called to the surface. Lured by the author’s confessional voice and clever (re) constructions of dialogues among retreat guests we’re feasted on the organic development of story telling and art making. The end a surprisingly lucid argument for honesty in art.