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Night Woman
     

Night Woman

4.0 1
by Nancy Price
 

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In the dark of night, throughout Nebraska's blinding winters and in the suffocating heat of its summers, Mary Eliot wrote the novels that made her husband famous. The acclaim, the crowds, university tenure, rumors of a Pulitzer�all the honors fell to Randal, whose mental breakdowns only added to his literary aura. But for twenty years it was Mary, sweet long-suffering

Overview

In the dark of night, throughout Nebraska's blinding winters and in the suffocating heat of its summers, Mary Eliot wrote the novels that made her husband famous. The acclaim, the crowds, university tenure, rumors of a Pulitzer�all the honors fell to Randal, whose mental breakdowns only added to his literary aura. But for twenty years it was Mary, sweet long-suffering Mary, whose burning, secret gift kept the family together. For better or for worse, in sickness and in health�Mary lived by those vows. Let other, more selfish women cut and run. She had children to raise, a husband to protect, bills to pay�and she believed, no way to escape.

Then suddenly, tragically, Randal's car crashed on an icy winter road. Mary was now the famous widow, free at last of care and worry, ensconced in a wonderful new house of her very own. Writing books that were "found" after Randal's death, she assured her financial future. Yet she dreamed of announcing to the world that it was she, Mary Quinn Eliot, who deserved the fame, the respect, the adulation�

Mary did not dare to dream of love. But it came to her in the passionate attentions of Paul Anderson, an intense younger man who penetrated her reserve and brought her to sensual fulfillment she had known only as a bride. Eager to share the secret she guarded for so long, Mary was thwarted by Paul's growing obsessions and bewildered by the sudden, brutal outbursts of his temper�storms that barely hinted at the secret violence of his past. Paul had grandiose ambitions that no one would deny. And Mary could not know that in the truth she longed to reveal lay the sinister beginnings of her own destruction�

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Well written and engaging, Price's ( Sleeping with the Enemy ) new romantic suspense novel posits an intriguing situation. Mary, the outwardly mousy wife of prizewinning author Randal Eliot--a raging, pulsing depressive who claims to write in a trance--frequently packs off her spouse to mental wards. During these delicious reprieves from his torrent of abuse, she writes his acclaimed novels. But when fate unexpectedly frees her of Randal, Mary is caught in an ironic double bind: she can't publish her own work because it appears to have been stolen from him. She marries Paul Anderson, a handsome, shiftless academic hanging on by his fingernails to an unimpressive teaching job; he thinks that an inside track to Randal will ensure his success as a biographer. When Mary infuriates him by refusing to spill Randal's secrets, she taps a wellspring of madness. The book pulls its punches until the very last chapters--the most thoroughly heart-thumping scene is a gothic chase that smacks of the romance slicks--but gritty, wry characterization, chilling images of insanity, and a long, ultimately satisfying tease which ends with Mary at last getting her due will keep readers flipping pages. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection. (June)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Randal Eliot writes best-selling novels while in a trance. The Nebraska university professor seems a devoted husband to Mary and fond father to four grown children, but readers soon discover that Randal is totally insane and nurturing helpmate Mary is the true genius. The minutiae of everyday life contrasts vividly with Randal's increasingly odd behavior as Mary becomes more and more aware of her need to be recognized for her art. After Randal's timely accidental death, she finds love with handsome, younger Paul Anderson, an unpublished professor obsessed with the need to write the biography of ``great author'' Randal Eliot. This book moves along briskly in the stylish manner fans of Price ( Sleeping with the Enemy , LJ 5/15/87) have come to expect, and it is highly recommended.-- Lynn Thompson, Ozark Regional Lib., Ironton, Mo.
Kirkus Reviews
Following up on her 1987 novel Sleeping with the Enemy (made into a star vehicle for Julia Roberts), Price returns with a terrific suspenser with a softly ironic fade-out—and a lust for mainstream status. Price, telling us only what her characters do, not what they feel, has the right ingredients for a suspense classic but decides from the start to play for different stakes than the reader expects. The first third is a compassionate, deeply gripping story about Mary Eliot, a wallflower mother of four who has no college degree and is married to insane novelist/college teacher Randal Eliot. Randal has been hospitalized seven times, often having dictated a novel to his wife just before his breakdowns. She types them up while he's away—and he's now worthy of a Pulitzer. Truth is, to keep the family together and Randal employed by his Nebraska university, Mary writes the novels all on her own, from scratch. Randal is far too scattered to write even one legible word. He's also a monster, aglow with his literary success but absolutely insecure about his "talent." During a trip abroad, Randal has another breakdown, pins a paper flower to the back of his hand, and is again hospitalized by Mary, who sits down in a London apartment to write his new novel. Price, who cannibalizes her own works for Mary's oeuvre, is at her most impressive here, as when Mary rents a typewriter: "The rental shop was small and dusty. Mary waited her turn patiently and watched wreckers demolish a building across the street. Old rooms with their pastel plasterwork of flowers and fruit stood naked above traffic, like underwear or intimate conversations violently exposed to strangers." When Randal dies (orcommits suicide), Mary marries his prospective biographer, a much too two-dimensionally violent literary fanatic. The first half is pure gold. Don't even wait for the movie.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780671749941
Publisher:
Pocket Books
Publication date:
10/01/1993
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.98(d)

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Night Woman 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nancy Price has written a gripping tale of a woman who hides her literary genius by writing books for which her unstable husband takes credit. Unfortunately, when our heroine's husband is killed in a car crash, she moves on to another man who's an even bigger lunatic than the dearly departed. Nancy Price knows how to keep the reader's nose buried in her book, but doesn't show the non-stop talent of Mary, the lead character. For some reason, the novel starts out sounding like it's aimed at the barely literate - at one point a character actually says, 'Look, look!' at the sight of a beautiful building. By the middle of the story, this Dick-and-Jane style has faded, however, and the reader is left with a literate and highly engagimg thriller.