By Karen Joy Fowler
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399154751)
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
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If you loved The Jane Austen Book Club, you'll revel in Wit's End, a sly and clever novel of mystery, intrigue, and virtual reality.
Wit's End is many things: a quest novel--a young woman's search for the truth about her dead father's past; a mystery--the story of a long-ago murder in which that father might have been complicit; and a game--one that ensnares readers in cunning deceptions, challenging them to separate the true from the fictive.
Set in contemporary Santa Cruz, the novel centers on Rima Lanisell, a young woman at loose ends, having just lost her father to cancer. (Rima seems to lose people and things habitually-- sunglasses and car keys, lovers and family members.) Now she has come to coastal California at the behest of her godmother, Addison Early, who once knew Rima's father well. Perhaps too well. Rima is on a mission to discover just what that relationship was really about.
Addison, a bestselling mystery writer, is secretive and feisty. Over the years, she has tried to protect her work and her privacy as her passionate fans have become ever more intrusive. In this age of the Internet, with its blogs, chat rooms, websites, its Wikipedia, false personas, and hidden identities, those fans have begun to take over the plot lines and the life of her famous fictional detective. For many, he is more real than Addison herself. So Wit's End is also a highly inventive take on the way dedicated readers appropriate their favorite books, perhaps the one act of theft applauded the world over--except by authors.
Above all, Wit's End is Karen Joy Fowler at her most subversive and witty, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is uniquely and memorably her own.