Lizzie's War: A Novel

Lizzie's War: A Novel

4.3 6
by Tim Farrington
     
 

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A family epic laced with authenticity, wit and unforgettable characters. Liz O'Reilly has a husband in Vietnam, 4 kids under the age of 12 (and one on the way), and a burgeoning crush on the family priest. An unconventional love story.

It's Summer 1967 and Mike O'Reilly's just shipped out to Vietnam. Liz O'Reilly is trying to keep it all together for their

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Overview

A family epic laced with authenticity, wit and unforgettable characters. Liz O'Reilly has a husband in Vietnam, 4 kids under the age of 12 (and one on the way), and a burgeoning crush on the family priest. An unconventional love story.

It's Summer 1967 and Mike O'Reilly's just shipped out to Vietnam. Liz O'Reilly is trying to keep it all together for their four kids – 6 year old Deb–Deb (who believes she is an otter), 8 year old Angus, Kathie, (who at age 9 helps to integrate the local Blue Bird troop with her best friend Temperance), and 11 year old Danny – the spitting image of Mike. While Mike is off fighting "his" war, Liz struggles with her own desires and yearnings – to pick up the theatre career she abandoned when Danny was born, to care for the four children she loves fiercely yet also occasionally resents, to leave the backdoor unlocked so she always has an escape route. While set during the conflict in Vietnam, Farrington's novel captures the other side of any war – that of the war at home and the careening emotions of the spouses and families left behind.

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Editorial Reviews

The New Yorker
Farrington’s urgent, moving narrative turns the war novel on its head. It’s 1967, and while Mike O’Reilly, a career marine, is getting shot at in Vietnam, his wife, Lizzie, is dodging domestic shrapnel: she’s two months into an unplanned pregnancy, she flinches every time the doorbell rings, and her four children, at school, are hearing that their father is a baby-killer. While Mike’s active-duty letters, full of mud and gore, form part of the story, it is Farrington’s unsparing account of Lizzie’s life at home—the desperately untidy house, her small attempts to carve out time for herself, her mounting anxiety—that takes the novel beyond its particular time and place and makes it a captivating study of tenderness and blame.
Publishers Weekly
Liz and Mike O'Reilly's marriage weathers the Vietnam War in Farrington's fourth novel (after The Monk Downstairs), a well-crafted but somewhat timeworn story about a military family's stoicism in the field and on the home front. Capt. Michael O'Reilly, USMC, ships out from Okinawa for Da Nang, while back home in Detroit, where the streets are afire from the 1967 riots, a pregnant Liz struggles alone to raise their four children. Mike is "turned toward battle like a plant toward the sun," but Liz quietly curses the Marine Corp and draws on hidden reserves of strength to be a good Catholic wife and mother. As commander of a beleaguered company in Vietnam, Mike is badly wounded and further strains the marriage when he returns to combat instead of coming home. Meanwhile, a near miscarriage in her third trimester almost costs Liz her life, but she decides to keep the baby rather than guarantee her own survival. Farrington's graceful prose moves the engaging narrative along at a brisk clip, but tough, noble Mike and tough, big-hearted Liz remain mired in type. The result is a compassionate but unambitious novel about enduring marital love and family ties during wartime from an author who was willing to take greater risks in his earlier works. Agent, Laurie Fox. 13-city tour. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Farrington (The Monk Downstairs) beautifully braids together an American soldier's view of the Vietnam War, a study of his struggling wife and children, and an introspective look at a Catholic priest questioning his faith. As the Detroit riots of 1967 unfold, Elizabeth O'Reilly, pregnant with her fifth child, prepares to send her marine captain husband, Michael, off to fight in Vietnam. Both are desperate to maintain some semblance of normalcy, with Lizzie struggling on the home front and Mike muddling through battle with his grim and quirky wit still intact. Father Ezekiel Germaine, himself a Vietnam veteran, is suffering from his own nightmares, as well as doubts about the existence of God and second thoughts about his friendship with Lizzie. The story, which spans one year in these characters' lives, serves as a microcosmic overview of the troubled times. Innumerable novels have delineated U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, but this poetic and tender book chronicles its devastating developments and highlights the commitments, fears, and desires of a family and those closely related. Recommended for popular fiction collections.-Andrea Tarr, Alta Loma, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A moist-eyed story switches between the grim work of a Marine captain in Vietnam and the hand-wringing of his wife and children back in Virginia. When she married Mike O'Reilly, Lizzie was an aspiring actress at Catholic University and intent on having a "deep, literate veteran" for a husband, one who was worldly and wrote novels. Instead, by August 1967, he's stuck in Vietnam, making a career of the war, while Lizzie and their four children-she's pregnant with the fifth-live in dread of the moment when the bad news will be delivered to her door in suburban Virginia. While Lizzie fills her days trying to distract her children with numbing domestic chores, and with making the dreaded visit to another Marine wife who has just heard the news of her husband's death, Mike, overseas, is assigned a new company called Heartbreak Hotel and has to get in line "the usual USMC-issue array of maniacs, morons, stone-cold killers, and fuckups." In letters home, written from line-of-fire outposts like Dong Ha, Mike hints at the ghastly killings (the men who "bought it") and the affecting camaraderie among the members of the company. Meanwhile, Lizzie sews her daughter's bluebird uniform for Girl Scouts and befriends the lonely priest at St. Jude's, Father Germaine, who is having his own spiritual crisis and finds solace in drinking with Lizzie and even flirting with her. Mike is wounded, despite all his assurances that the war is safer than living in Nebraska, and, finally, Lizzie learns from an alarming news report on TV where her husband really is, Khe Sanh, South Vietnam, surrounded by Viet Cong: the parallel to Dien Bien Phu is eerie. Yet even with Mike wounded and Lizzie in a difficult labor,Farrington (The Monk Downstairs, 2002) has woven such an idyllic family unit that nothing can undermine it. Smooth writing, honest characters, predictable outcome. Author tour
Booklist
“Farrington is a natural-born storyteller...A memorable family story told with wry humor and fluent prose.”
New York Newsday
“Throughout Lizzie’s War, Farrington has an ear for the changing time signatures and keys of uncomfortable, revealing moments.”
Pages Magazine
“Featuring scenes from the home front as well as Southeast Asia, Farrington’s family epic is compelling, honest, and poignant.”
The Oregonian (Portland)
“[A] memorable novel about love, commitment and family during wartime.”
Lolly Winston
"A touching love story....Lizzie is smart, funny, acerbic, and lovable. Her story shot straight to my heart."
Lorna Landvik
"This is a work of deep humanity; its poetry and humor are added bonuses."
—Lorna Landvik
“This is a work of deep humanity; its poetry and humor are added bonuses.”
—Lolly Winston
“A touching love story....Lizzie is smart, funny, acerbic, and lovable. Her story shot straight to my heart.”
--Lorna Landvik
“This is a work of deep humanity; its poetry and humor are added bonuses.”
--Lolly Winston
“A touching love story....Lizzie is smart, funny, acerbic, and lovable. Her story shot straight to my heart.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062016706
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/29/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
393,612
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Lolly Winston
“A touching love story....Lizzie is smart, funny, acerbic, and lovable. Her story shot straight to my heart.”
Lorna Landvik
“This is a work of deep humanity; its poetry and humor are added bonuses.”

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