Anywhere But Here

Anywhere But Here

3.7 23
by Mona Simpson
     
 

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Anywhere But Here is a moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer. As they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions, Ann and Adele bring to life a novel that is a brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving, even at the risk of profound disorientation.

Overview

Anywhere But Here is a moving, often comic portrait of wise child Ann August and her mother, Adele, a larger-than-life American dreamer. As they travel through the landscape of their often conflicting ambitions, Ann and Adele bring to life a novel that is a brilliant exploration of the perennial urge to keep moving, even at the risk of profound disorientation. Simpson's first novel is ultimately a heart-rendering tale of a mother and daughter's invaluable relationship.

"The two women in this book are American originals. Ann is a new Huck Finn, a tough, funny, resourceful love of a girl. Adele is like no one I've encountered, at once deplorable and admirable—and altogether believable."
—Walker Percy

"Anywhere But Here is a wonder: big, complex, masterfully written, it's an achievement that lands [Simpson] in the front ranks of our best novelists."
Newsweek

Editorial Reviews

Newsweek
Anywhere But Here is a wonder: big, complex, masterfully written, it's an achievement that lands [Simpson] in the front ranks of our best novelists.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ann, the narrator of this engaging look at mother-daughter relationships, is uprooted from Bay City, Wis., by her mother, Adele, so that she can become a child star in Los Angeles. PW praised Simpson for her ``grasp of human relationships and sheer readability.'' (January)
Library Journal
Simpson's first novel opens with its two heroines, Adele and her daughter Ann, fleeing their provincial hometown in Wisconsin for a fresh start in California. The story of their journey and new life is fast-paced and entertaining, but it is Simpson's fine characterizations that are most impressive. Adele is both protector and manipulator, encouraging Ann's success as a child star but also displaying her own unrealistic expectations and selfish motives. Ann tolerates her mother's lying and eccentricity, but she longs for a rootedness her mother cannot give her. The skillfully written flashbacks to stories told by Adele's Wisconsin relatives give us a sense of the home they have left behind, and the disparity between it and their new home is immense and profound. This is an excellent novel.
—Lucinda Ann Peck, Learning Design Associates, Gahanna, Ohio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781574902143
Publisher:
Beeler, Thomas T. Publisher
Publication date:
09/01/1999
Series:
Large Print Series
Edition description:
Large Print
Pages:
660
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt


The thing about my mother and me is that when we get along, we're just the same. Exactly. And at the Luau Hotel, we were happy. Waiting for our car to be fixed, we didn't talk about money. It was so big, we didn't think about it. We lay on our stomachs on the king-sized bed, our calves tangling up behind us, readingnovels. I read Gone With the Wind. Near the end, I locked myself in the bathroom, stopping up my face with a towel. After a while she knocked on the door.

"Honey, let me in, I want to tell you something!" I made myself keep absolutely still. "Don't worry, Honey, she gets him back later. She gets him again in the end."

We loved the swimming pool. Those days we were waiting for our car to be fixed, we lay out from ten until two, because my mother had read that those were the best tanning hours. That was what we liked doing, improving ourselves: lying sprawled out on the reclining chairs, rubbed with coconut suntan oil, turning the pages of new-bought magazines. Then we'd go in the pool, me cannonballing off the diving board for the shock of it, my mother starting in one corner of the shallow end, both her arms out to the sides, skimming the surface as she stepped in gradually, smiling wide, saying, "Eeeeeeeee."

My mother wore a white suit, I swam in gym shorts. While I was lying on a chair, once, she picked up my foot and looked down my leg. "Apricot," she said.

At home, one farmer put in a swimming pool, fenced all around with aluminum. That summer, Ben and I sat in the fields outside, watching through the diamond spaces of the fence. Sometimes the son would try and chase us away and throw rocks at us, little sissy pieces ofgravel.

"Public property!" we screamed back at him. We were sitting in Guns Field. We kids all knew just who owned what land.

Every afternoon, late, after the prime tanning hours, we went out. Dressing took a long time. My mother called room service for a pitcher of fresh lemonade, told them not too much sugar, but some sugar, like yesterday, a pinch, just enough so it was sweet. Sweet, but a little tart, too. Come to think of it, yesterday tasted a little too tart, but the day before was perfect. This was all on the tele-phone. My mother was the kind of customer a waitress would like to kill.

We'd each take showers and wash our hair, squeezing lemons on it before the cream rinse. We touched up our fingernails and toenails with polish. That was only the beginning. Then came the body cream and face cream, our curlers and hair sprays and makeup.

All along, I had a feeling we couldn't afford this and that it would be unimaginably bad when we had to pay. I don't know what I envisioned: nothing, no luck, losing everything, so it was the absolute worst, no money for food, being stopped on a plain cement floor in the sun, unable to move, winding down, stopping like a clock stopped.

But then it went away again. In our sleeveless summer dresses and white patent leather thongs, we walked to the district of small, expensive shops. There was an exotic pet store we visited every day. We'd been first drawn in by a sign on the window for two defumed skunks.

"But you can never really get the smell completely out," the blond man inside had told us. He showed us a baby raccoon and we watched it lick its paws, with movements like a cat but more delicate, intricate features.

More than anything, I wanted that raccoon. And my mother wasn't saying no. We didn't have to make any decisions until we left the Luau. And we didn't know yet when that would be.

In a china store, my mother held up a plain white plate. "Look at this. See how fine it is?" If she hadn't said that, I wouldn't have noticed anything, but now I saw that it was thin and there was a pearliness, like a film of water, over the surface.

"Granny had a whole set like this." She turned the plate upside down and read the fine printing. "Yup, this is it. Spode."

I remembered Granny almost bald, carrying oats and water across the yard to feed Hal's pony. But still, I didn't know.

"Mmhmm. You don't know, but Granny was very elegant. Gramma isn't, she could be, but she isn't. We're like Granny. See, we belong here, Pooh-bear-cub. We come from this."

I didn't know.

What People are saying about this

Walker Percy
The two women in this book are American originals. Ann is a new Huck Finn, a tough, funny, resourceful love of a girl. Adele is like no one I've encountered, at once deplorable and admirable—and altogether believable.

Meet the Author

Mona Simpson is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Grant and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. She is the author of the acclaimed novels Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road and My Hollywood. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their two children.

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Anywhere but Here 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anywhere But Here captured my attention and my heart only one chapter through. Mona Simpson displays true talent through her distinctive, masterful writing. Everything about Anywhere But Here is soulfully perfect-the quirky, yet lovable characters, the jumpy plots, and the realism. I recommend this brilliant novel to anyone who loves to read about family and the essence of life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mona Simpson¿s book, Anywhere But Here is a well written and well crafted fictional novel about a mother and daughter relationship. Adele August, mother of Ann, is a high spirited woman who doesn¿t fit the profile of a mom. She yearns for a life in California, to roam the easy street among actors and actresses. Adele even wants to have her own daughter become a star as well. She pushes Ann towards a direction she thinks will be great for her, wanting to give her daughter a life she didn¿t have. She forces Ann to become the adult and to be the one to think logically. Anywhere but Here is a good novel, but it lacks a solid plot. The flashbacks to the grandmother and the aunt throw off the flow of the story and the memories aren¿t properly organized. Although the vocabulary and sentence structure are simple, the reader really needs to pay close attention to each word in order to understand what is going on. The scenes change rapidly between past and present, and a lot of the setting switch over from house to car to hotel as well. I liked the book, but it wasn¿t the best I have read. I wouldn¿t recommend this book to anyone that likes action or suspense or any kind of a major conflict. Overall, the book needed a more developed plot to help the story flow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mona Simpson's book 'Anywhere But Here' is a great read. There are many real life illusions in the book that make readers feel like they could be reading about themselves. This novel is about a young girl and her mother and their struggle to get by in life. Anne, the daughter, is a beautiful young girl and her mother, Adele, thinks she could succeed in show business, so they travel around the country. Adele is an over protective mother. The novel first describes the grandmother's life and goes all the way through to Anne's life. This makes parts of the book confusing and hard to picture, but later on the book explains itself. Many parts in the novel have smaller chapters within those parts. This makes the book seem more realistic but sometimes we do not know who is talking or don't really understand who the person is in contrast to the rest of the characters. Overall, though, this was a novel that anyone could read and enjoy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have ever read. The characters are so real. I also love the movie Susan Surandon and Natalie Portman portray Adele and Ann so perfectly
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of the movie adaptation of this book mainly because of the film's supporting (though I think otherwise) actress, Natalie Portman. I simply adored the movie even though it was a 'chick flick', so sue me. I had one gripe about the movie and that was that it left alot of things open and unresolved. I decided to buy the book and see if it would bring closure to alot of the situations. As I was reading through it, I found out that there were MANY things that didn't even make it onscreen. Things that should've been included but would have made for a long drawn-out movie, much like a television mini-series. This book too was of the 'chick pick' genre, but I overlooked that (as I did with the movie). Superbly written, visually imaginative, this book took me awhile to finish but it did eventually close up the movie's plot holes. It makes me wonder whether the movie would have been more successful if Simpson were to have written the screenplay. I am now moving on to Natalie Portman's new movie 'Where The Heart Is'. This time I'm going to read the book before I see the movie. But, back to the subject, I highly recommend this book. It's geared more to the female population but I'm pretty sure males (such as myself) will find it just as satisfying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was confusing. You have to read every sentence and understand it fully. One minute you're in the car traveling to California, the next minute your in Bay City, years before the move. Read every chapter, I mean EVERY CHAPTER!! They each explain something about the family. It was a good book all in all. Enjoy!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Anywhere But Here is such a great book its so much better than the movie I read the first few chapters and I couldn't put the book down I just loved it.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In Mona Simpson's 'Anywhere But Here', she shows a young girl's life as she grows up with her self-obsessed mother. Simpson fills the book with many short stories that have almost no connection to the rest of the book. The first few pages are a hard read because of the many characters to connect and the many metaphors, similes, and long description paragraphs.Simpson doesn't give enough description of Ann or her her mother, Adele, to get a clear picture of ages, looks, or motives. Although the book is an interesting look at a mother and daughter's roller-coaster ride of a relationship, it is not a book that I would recommend investing in
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion, this book was absolutely horrible. Poorly written, it seemed to me nothing but a series of disjointed, rambling chapters with absolutely no discernable plot. I thought the characters were unlikeable and poorly developed, and I thought some were entirely irrelevant and misplaced in what I assume was the author's attempt at a story. In spite of lengthy, flowery paragraphs describing *facsinating* things like....rocks, pavement, and roads, the story never goes anywhere. I think this book is nearly ridiculous as a published novel. I found the bad writing terribly distracting, and became so frustrated because of it that I couldn't even force myself to finish the book. By the time I'd read nearly half of it, I still couldn't determine a story. The author never provides any background or explanation for either of the two main characters, an unhappy little girl and her neurotic mother. Shame on the publisher for subjecting the public to this waste of paper. Save your money!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in modern times, Mona Simpson's fictional book "Anywhere But Here" takes us through a mother-daughter relationship full of misunderstandings and disagreements. Adele, Anne's mother, pressures Anne to look beautiful and thin so that she can become a notorious movie star in Hollywood. Even though Adele has high aspirations for Anne, she can't quite seem to live the life that she has in mind. She is consistently trying to find "the perfect father" for Anne but comes up short after many different dates. Adele finally decides to take Anne to California and eagerly searches for movie shoots and jobs for Anne. This whole ordeal of becoming famous is seen throughout the book but in the end Anne is just a normal child and her mother is left wondering why her idea of Anne becoming famous was never fulfilled. Even though the plot is intriguing, it is quite drawn out. The sentences flow well with one another and are quite colloquial but the prolonged story makes the readability difficult. While reading throught the book we as readers are left wondering why some scenes are even inserted. Many of these scenes are distracting as well as unnecessary. Mona Simpson's writing style also affects the overall readability of "Anywhere But Here." Her chapters jump from character to character letting us see the different views of each character on specific events. However, most of the chapters are seen through Anne's unemotional viewpoint. Carol, Adele's sister, also plays part in a few of the chapters describing Adele's past life and attempting to demonstrate to us readers why Adele acts in the manner that she does. Adele has one chapter in the very end which, unlike Anne's, is full of emotion. As readers, we are left confused as to why Simpson didn't add as much emotion into Anne's character like she does with Adele. As she jumps from character to character, she also skips from year to year ignoring chronological order. This makes for a hard-to-understand organization of stories. One minute we think that Anne is an eighteen-year-old woman and the next we find out that she is only a twelve-year-old child. Not only that, sometimes Simpson doesn't even mention the age and we are left trying to decipher Anne's age by Simpson's inferring style. Overall, the book depicted a real-life situation that we are able to relate to, but the whole storyline was hard to follow. I would suggest watching the movie before the story because you may begin the story but find out that you are unable to finish the difficult storyline.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 11 years old and i am reding Steve Jobs by walter isaccson and he talks about mona simpson bieng a writer and that inspired me to read one of her books. I was wondering if you think that i would like this