Playing with Fire

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A first novel with strong autobiographical overtones, this fledgling effort needed more capable editing to achieve its potential. Although Shapiro shows promise as a writer, too often she falls victim to overwrought, self-indulgent prose and a myriad of cliches. Narrator Lucy Greenburg, the blond, blue-eyed offspring of an Orthodox Jewish family that boasts a long line of revered rabbis, immediately falls under the spell of her Smith College roommate, a quintessential WASP. Carolyn Ward is beautiful, enigmatic and controlling; Lucy idolizes her finishing-school poise and perpetual tan, which Carolyn maintains by mysteriously disappearing from Smith for weeks at a time. She also awakens in Lucy a feverish sexual longing, which Lucy sublimates with a passion equally as strong--an affair with Carolyn's stepfather, construction tycoon Ben Broadhurst. Ben's influence gets Lucy a screen test, a career as a TV commercial model and her first movie. But the end of her dissolute life as Ben's mistress, a dramatic announcement by Carolyn (the ostensible plot bombshell has been telegraphed to the reader early on) and a family tragedy leave Lucy bereft of dreams, sadder but wiser at 22. Flashes of talent enliven Shapiro's often bathetic prose, especially when Lucy evokes the members of her religious family. This novel will probably fare well commercially, but one expects Shapiro to write a better book next time. (June)
Library Journal
With situations that modernize some classic themes, this first novel is a moving, heartfelt tale of family, friendship, love, and maturity. Reminiscent in some ways of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited , the novel takes Lucy Greenberg from naive adolescence to disillusioned adulthood, and leaves her in control of her life--although that life isn't exactly picture perfect. Lucy breaks from family traditions when she leaves for college, and her friendship with well-to-do Carolyn Ward throws her into a tempestuous relationship with Carolyn's stepfather, Ben. Lucy's life spirals out of control until her family is touched by tragedy; then she is forced to take control of her destiny for the first time. Just shy of being melodramatic, the novel uses powerful language and intelligent imagery to communicate Lucy's evolution. The book seems somewhat autobiographical and is very effective, although there are a few loose ends--perhaps another comment on how life can be.-- Heidi Schwartz, ``Business Interiors,'' Red Bank, N . J .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385267229
  • Publisher: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/1990
  • Pages: 320

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2007

    LIFE LESSONS

    I thought this was a very interesting novel. It deals with a young girl lucy growing into a young woman. Lucy goes off to college and there she meets her new room mate carolyn ward. Carolyn takes her on a walk of sexual awaking. The two gets a taste of each other, and there things start to get a little weird. Lucy then begins a relationship with carolyn's stepfather, and while all of this is happening lucy, must deal with and over over all of her family issues. I think you will enjoy this book. It is this author's first novel. And i think she did a pretty good job.

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