The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
By Rebecca Miller
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374237424, 256pp.
Publication Date: August 5, 2008
List Price: $23.00*
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At fifty, Pippa Lee seems just fine. The devoted wife of a brilliant publisher thirty years her senior, the proud mother of successful twins, and a lovely and adored friend and neighbor, she seems to glow with feminine serenity. But when her husband spontaneously decides they should cast off Gramercy Park for Marigold Village retirement home as a “preemptive strike against his decrepitude,” Pippa finds her beatific persona unraveling in alarming ways: the truth is that the gracious woman of the present day has seen more than her fair share of the wild side. By seventeen, Pippa had lived with a Dexedrine-addicted mother, felt the first stirrings of sexuality with a school girlfriend, had an affair with a teacher, and run away from home, set adrift on a course littered with broken hearts—until she seemingly found love and security in a family of her own. And now that established world, too, is in danger. In Pippa Lee we have an unforgettable heroine, and a quirky and acutely intelligent portrait of the many lives behind a single name. Even after we’ve read it, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a story that is still unfurling.
“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is about the bewildering ways we become who are, the daily steps we take that end up being called “a life.” It unfolds like a dream, like finding a door in your bedroom that you never noticed before, and slowly opening it, and coming upon a whole world on the other side, a world that you never knew existed. Rebecca Miller knows what all artists know—that it is impossible to reveal a life in its fullness—but in this wise and irreverent novel, the glimpses she allows us are stunning.” —Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City“THE PRIVATE LIVES OF PIPPA LEE is a beautifully layered and subtle novel of identity, with a wonderfully vivid sense of place and character. And it's hesitatingly wise in all sorts of ways, as well as being a deftly constructed page-turner.” —Joseph O’Connor, author of Star of the Sea