Customer Reviews for

Lookaway, Lookaway

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

The new novel by Wilton Barnhardt, "Lookaway, Lookaway"

The new novel by Wilton Barnhardt, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a sometimes humorous and occasionally biting look at Southern culture and the fall of a complex, imperfect, yet ultimately loveable family from North Carolina.

Steeped in a struggle to maintain their ...
The new novel by Wilton Barnhardt, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a sometimes humorous and occasionally biting look at Southern culture and the fall of a complex, imperfect, yet ultimately loveable family from North Carolina.

Steeped in a struggle to maintain their social standing and a Southern gentility as phony as a Civil War reenactment featuring a cannon whose wheels won't stay on, the Johnstons of Charlotte have more than their share of shocking secrets. The novel is largely a telling of these secrets. The final disclosure -- one that reaches so deep it threatens the foundation of the reputation cultivated by generations of Johnstons -- triggers the tragic, insane, funny, and somehow endearing and hopeful ending. (There is no quit in that girl Jerene!)

Each of the chapters (there are eleven rather long ones) is named after a central character. Each character is fully realized, three-dimensional, engendering in the reader as much love and pity as scorn and disgust. No small trick, Barnhardt made each chapter a mini-profile -- with no shortage of back story -- while simultaneously driving the main plot forward.

Despite the number of characters, I was never confused about who was who or why they were behaving as they were. I take this as an indication that Barnhardt knows these lovable and flawed people better, probably, than his own family. (And now I do, too.)

The novel's structure was fun and fitting. The book unfolds, chapter by chapter, like a layered image revealed one acetate at a time. The faulty, if rational, conclusions made by the reader when the image is just beginning to emerge are later clarified (surprise!) as the image grows more complete. A minor example: College football star Duke Johnston is publicly disappointed when an injury prevents his participation in Vietnam. Later, in the chapter devoted to Duke, we discover he was secretly relieved.

Barnhardt obviously researched the Civil War for this book, and sprinkled into it just enough weird tidbits to keep it interesting. (I actually could have used a bit more of the surprising history, despite its relative irrelevance to the story and my having only a passing interest in the war.)

Finally, this book is more than just a window into the foibles and shortcomings of Southern culture.

Not unlike how "Emma Who Saved My Life" showed us it's OK to drop a dream if the dream turns out to be not as dreamy as you thought it would be, the hopeful message of "Lookaway, Lookaway" is that it's OK to fail. Everyone fails. Even those who succeed fail. Likewise, even those who fail succeed. Our dear Duke, for example, who has squandered the family fortune, feels like a failure until he realizes how much his family loves him despite his faults. (And we love him for realizing it.)

Coming away from the book, I was left with the feeling that Barnhardt, who is obviously an aficionado of fine food and wine, must also be an awful gossip.

I love gossips.

NOTE: I received a free copy of the novel from the editor.

posted by LynnDemarest on August 27, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

I wouldn't read past page 40! Sorry I didn't read a sample, or I

I wouldn't read past page 40! Sorry I didn't read a sample, or I would never have ordered this. It is disgusting. I'm not a prude , but this book is trash. I don't know who wrote the promotional blurb for this, but they obviously didn't read very intently. Wish I could ...
I wouldn't read past page 40! Sorry I didn't read a sample, or I would never have ordered this. It is disgusting. I'm not a prude , but this book is trash. I don't know who wrote the promotional blurb for this, but they obviously didn't read very intently. Wish I could get my money back from Barnes and Noble. This doesn't even deserve one star.

posted by Beachbabe1 on August 26, 2013

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  • Posted December 17, 2013

    Once you get past the sorority stuff the book is awesome.so much

    Once you get past the sorority stuff the book is awesome.so much southern history info told within a great story. I loved it

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2013

    This is my first review of a book/ or online review of anything.

    This is my first review of a book/ or online review of anything. I read constantly and I read everything, and I loved this book. It is hard to put it down yet I didn't want to finish it. I must admit, the first chapter of fraternity initiations caused me to wonder if I would like this book. But by the middle I was laughing out loud while reading it, which is very rare. You can't not love a book that makes you laugh out loud.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2013

    This was entertaining and even educational all the way through.

    This was entertaining and even educational all the way through.  Once you get through the disgusting fraternity initiation descriptions it becomes a book  about a captivating but flawed family and the secrets that have relentlessly  driven them from the past into a  desolate future.  How they get there is worth reading  every page.  Funny, insightful, educational and equally pathetic each character unfolds int their own unique, damaged way.  

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    The new novel by Wilton Barnhardt, "Lookaway, Lookaway"

    The new novel by Wilton Barnhardt, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a sometimes humorous and occasionally biting look at Southern culture and the fall of a complex, imperfect, yet ultimately loveable family from North Carolina.

    Steeped in a struggle to maintain their social standing and a Southern gentility as phony as a Civil War reenactment featuring a cannon whose wheels won't stay on, the Johnstons of Charlotte have more than their share of shocking secrets. The novel is largely a telling of these secrets. The final disclosure -- one that reaches so deep it threatens the foundation of the reputation cultivated by generations of Johnstons -- triggers the tragic, insane, funny, and somehow endearing and hopeful ending. (There is no quit in that girl Jerene!)

    Each of the chapters (there are eleven rather long ones) is named after a central character. Each character is fully realized, three-dimensional, engendering in the reader as much love and pity as scorn and disgust. No small trick, Barnhardt made each chapter a mini-profile -- with no shortage of back story -- while simultaneously driving the main plot forward.

    Despite the number of characters, I was never confused about who was who or why they were behaving as they were. I take this as an indication that Barnhardt knows these lovable and flawed people better, probably, than his own family. (And now I do, too.)

    The novel's structure was fun and fitting. The book unfolds, chapter by chapter, like a layered image revealed one acetate at a time. The faulty, if rational, conclusions made by the reader when the image is just beginning to emerge are later clarified (surprise!) as the image grows more complete. A minor example: College football star Duke Johnston is publicly disappointed when an injury prevents his participation in Vietnam. Later, in the chapter devoted to Duke, we discover he was secretly relieved.

    Barnhardt obviously researched the Civil War for this book, and sprinkled into it just enough weird tidbits to keep it interesting. (I actually could have used a bit more of the surprising history, despite its relative irrelevance to the story and my having only a passing interest in the war.)

    Finally, this book is more than just a window into the foibles and shortcomings of Southern culture.

    Not unlike how "Emma Who Saved My Life" showed us it's OK to drop a dream if the dream turns out to be not as dreamy as you thought it would be, the hopeful message of "Lookaway, Lookaway" is that it's OK to fail. Everyone fails. Even those who succeed fail. Likewise, even those who fail succeed. Our dear Duke, for example, who has squandered the family fortune, feels like a failure until he realizes how much his family loves him despite his faults. (And we love him for realizing it.)

    Coming away from the book, I was left with the feeling that Barnhardt, who is obviously an aficionado of fine food and wine, must also be an awful gossip.

    I love gossips.

    NOTE: I received a free copy of the novel from the editor.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2013

    I wouldn't read past page 40! Sorry I didn't read a sample, or I

    I wouldn't read past page 40! Sorry I didn't read a sample, or I would never have ordered this. It is disgusting. I'm not a prude , but this book is trash. I don't know who wrote the promotional blurb for this, but they obviously didn't read very intently. Wish I could get my money back from Barnes and Noble. This doesn't even deserve one star.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 28, 2013

    As a southerner, I find this simpering family and their self-inv

    As a southerner, I find this simpering family and their self-involvement offensive. I found none of the characters sympathetic. It pains me to think that some readers will believe that this tripe represents southern culture. I am a fool to have finished this book in the hope that it may have some redeeming parts. WRONG!
    I deleted it from my Nook. it is not worth the space.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2013

    Lost me after chapter 2

    I am a Chapel Hill resident and thought the book looked funny in a Southern way. Although the book started out entertaining, I was quickly bored with the book. I put it down before the end of chapter 2.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2013

    not my fVorite Not my favorite

    If you are a civil war buff or southern hiistory scholar then plenty to interest you Interesting references to southern tradition and faniliar places

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 15, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    As I so often do, I did not read the synopsis when I borrowed t


    As I so often do, I did not read the synopsis when I borrowed this audio book from the library. I love starting a book with no preconceived idea of what it will be about. All I had to go on was the cover art and the title. My guess was that it was set in the South and in the past. I was right about it being the South, but not about the time period exactly. While it starts in the past, it is a more contemporary past than I expected.





    I was also thrown by how the characters were all going to tie together. It starts with Jerilyn going off to college and her mother telling her not to join a sorority, then Gaston the writer makes an appearance, and then each of the characters has a piece of the story so that the point of view changes. I wasn't sure at first how the college freshman and the drunk writer were going to fit together. I would listen while running and as scenes unfolded and characters were together the pieces just started to click together.





    This is a family full of secrets, some known by all but not spoken of, and some that are truly and deeply secrets. What do you do when your own family can't be counted on to be there for you? How much hurt and pain could be adverted by just taking the time to have honest conversations and how much do appearances really matter? And how long does one spend trying to break out of childhood roles and examples that were set at home?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2014

    Enjoyed the book. People who are offended by language and sex w

    Enjoyed the book. People who are offended by language and sex won't like it. I was born and raised in the South. There is lots and lots of truth to this book. The author Lee Smith described it as satire which it is -- but, for me, it is true satire. Family and family connections do matter in the South!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 18, 2014

    A slow-starting book but as you sort out this flawed family, you

    A slow-starting book but as you sort out this flawed family, you won't be able to lay it down. I almost quit on the first chapter but was oh so glad I didn't. A great way to spend a snowy Michigan winter and escape to the Carolinas.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 21, 2014

    Utterly absorbing. I hated to say goodbye to Jerene and her fas

    Utterly absorbing. I hated to say goodbye to Jerene and her fascinating family.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    I'm furious I wasted my money on this book.  It's awful and the

    I'm furious I wasted my money on this book.  It's awful and the description is misleading.  Don't bother.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2014

    terrible book

    This may not be the worst book I've ever read, but it's a close second! This story has no purpose... all negative with no redeeming qualities. A story about a completely dysfunctional family. If you're into non-feel good books, then perhaps you'll like this one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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