The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

( 28 )

Overview

What part of our selves do we hide away in order to have a stable, prosperous life?

Pippa Lee has just such a life in place at age fifty, when her older husband, a retired publisher, decides that they should move to a retirement community outside New York City. Pippa is suddenly deprived of the stimulation and distraction that had held everything in place. She begins losing track of her own mind; her foundations start to shudder, and gradually we learn the truth of the young ...

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The Private Lives of Pippa Lee: A Novel

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Overview

What part of our selves do we hide away in order to have a stable, prosperous life?

Pippa Lee has just such a life in place at age fifty, when her older husband, a retired publisher, decides that they should move to a retirement community outside New York City. Pippa is suddenly deprived of the stimulation and distraction that had held everything in place. She begins losing track of her own mind; her foundations start to shudder, and gradually we learn the truth of the young life that led her finally to settle down in marriage—years of neglect and rebellion, wild transgressions and powerful defiance.

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is the study of a brave, curious, multilayered woman—an acutely intelligent portrait of the many lives behind a single name.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Dreamy, elegant . . . Miller's astute, beautifully nuanced novel explores the unpredictable consequences of choosing to live a safe but emotionally compromised life."—Daily Mail (UK)

"Magnificent . . . Miller's depiction of her title character's tangled universe is so nuanced, so lovingly detailed, that it's impossible not to get drawn in."—Nylon

"Miller beautifully renders an American woman's grab and grab again at happiness."—The Believer

"Strikingly unconventional."—Elle

"Miller brings a simmering intelligence and verbal flair to this deft exploration of the courage required to own your own life."—Booklist

"Poignant and intriguing."—Daily Express (UK)

Praise for Personal Velocity:

"All these stories are as perfect as the form itself allows—surprising, grotesque, inspiring. . . . [Miller is] a wonderful writer."—The Washington Post Book World

"[Personal Velocity] is eye-opening . . . always humane, always honest, and always entertaining."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

The Scotsman
Miller's poetic imagery works so well it seems effortless. --Lesley McDowell
The Sunday Telegraph
Like Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections without the bitterness, mixed with Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides minus the eccentricity, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read. --Ophelia Field
Daily Mail
Dreamy, elegant...Miller's astute, beautifully nuanced novel explores the unpredictable consequences of choosing to live a safe but emotionally compromised life. --Eithne Farry
Psychologies
Miller's quietly devastating examination of ageing, love and loyalty is never less than compelling. --Clare Longrigg
Publishers Weekly

In this promising first novel, screenwriter/director Miller (The Ballad of Jack and Rose) probes the life of housewife Pippa Lee. Fifty-year-old Pippa lives a contented life with her older husband, Herb. However, everything changes when Herb announces that they are leaving Manhattan for a retirement community. Unsettled in her new home, Pippa begins sleepwalking through life-literally. She catches herself on a security camera cooking and eating while unconscious, then finds evidence that her somnambulist self has taken up smoking. In light of her erratic behavior, Pippa reconsiders the life she has built for herself and the example she is setting for her two grown children: raised by a pill-addicted mother, Pippa ran away from home at 17 and struggled with drugs, abusive relationships and her own feelings of guilt before looking for redemption in the family that she now worries is falling apart. Pippa's struggle to break the "chain of misunderstandings and adjustments" that passes from parent to child is moving. Despite a few moments of overwrought melodrama, the story's held together by Miller's sincere and intelligent protagonist. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Barnes & Noble Review
When we meet Pippa Lee in the dreamlike opening chapters of Rebecca Miller's first novel, she seems anything but complex. As the third wife of Herb, a literary lion 30 years her senior, Pippa has managed to settle herself neatly into a trophy wife's mold, having produced twins and played the consummate hostess to the publishing cognoscenti for decades. But Herb's heart attack and the couple's abrupt move to a suburban retirement community jar the serenity and security of her existence, releasing Pippa from the demands of city society while being surrounded by octogenarians. Through ensuing episodes of walking in her sleep (and eating, smoking, and driving), Pippa discovers her lost voice, literally, as she sets off on a path to recover the memory of her lost self ?- the speed-popping, S&M wild child she was before she met Herb. Switching to a first-person narrative, the story's pace changes dramatically as Pippa offers reminiscences that reveal the quiet voice of an observer who, despite emerging "from Suky's womb fulsome and alert, fat as a six-month-old, and covered in fine, black fur," has been reactive almost all her life. Miller, as daughter of the illustrious Arthur and wife of Daniel Day-Lewis, should understand what it is like to stand in the long shadow cast by a famous man. However, Miller's painting, acting, and writing and directing films have established her as a success in her own right. Perhaps that is why she gives us a Pippa who scrutinizes her "secret lives" and discovers that she may still have more to offer at 50 years of age than a perfectly golden crème brûlée. --Lydia Dishman
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312428334
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 8/18/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 951,902
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

REBECCA MILLER was a painter and actress before turning her hand to writing and directing. She is the author of the short-story collection Personal Velocity, her feature film adaptation of which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and the writer-director of The Ballad of Jack and Rose.

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Reading Group Guide

Questions for Discussion
1. Discuss the novel's title. What private aspects of Pippa's life did she have to leave behind when she married Herb? How does her true self compare with the persona she has to present to the public at Marigold Village? 2. Who did you suspect of being the culprit of the late-night grazing? What does Pippa hunger for when she is sleepwalking? 3. In what ways do the novel's shifting points of view enhance Rebecca Miller's storytelling? What does it mean for Pippa to narrate her early days, while her later years are recounted from an outsider's point of view? 4. How does the reading group described in "Cake" compare with yours? How would the Marigold Village group have responded if they had known about Pippa's connection to Sam Shapiro? 5. How do Ben and Grace compare with other twins you have known? How did Pippa respond to her children's differing temperaments when they were young -- for example, when Grace gave her ice cream cone to an impoverished little girl (becoming "angry at her own good fortune")? How is Ben affected by his sister's devotion to him? 6. How did your impressions of Suky shift as you read about her life as a young mother and her eventual demise? What accounts for her obsession with dieting? How did her parenting style compare with Pippa's? 7. What was your opinion of Mr. Brown? Was he in love with Pippa? Was she gullible or savvy in pursuing a relationship with him? Should he have been punished more severely or less severely for his affair with her? 8. Was Pippa's taste in men in any way shaped by her father's presence in her life and by his role as a religious leader? Was he a genuinely powerful man? 9. What did Pippa learn about relationships by watching Kat and Trish interact? Was there ever an Aunt Trish in your life? 10. What made Herb's marriage to Pippa so much more enduring than his marriage to Gigi? What was at the heart of Herb and Pippa's intense love for each other when they first met? Was he destined to be an unfaithful man, unable to control his urge to roam? 11. How would you have answered the question at the end of "Bullet," regarding Gigi's death: "Was it a suicide, or was it a murder? And if it was a murder, who did it?" 12. Discuss Johnny and Dot's marriage. What led Chris to develop religious views that were so different from those of his parents? What is the greatest source of friction in Johnny and Dot's household? What, ultimately, is the measure of a couple's success as a couple? 13. Are there any similarities between Moira and Pippa? To what extent is youth a factor in determining Herb's attraction to a woman? Is it risky to marry someone who is considerably older than you? 14. Discuss the dream in which Pippa's children devour her ("Early Days") and the one in which she drives through a cloud of moths ("Hopper"). What do these images indicate about her perception of herself? How did her greatest fears evolve throughout the chapters of her life? 15. What did you predict for Pippa's future after reading the novel's closing paragraph, which describes Pippa's feeling of "an unfamiliar story unfurling" within her? What will Chris's role in her life be?
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

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(2)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I can see why they wanted to turn this into a movie.

    A great read with a touch of suspense. It makes you wonder what stories lie underneath the surface of the lives of unlikely couples. Ms. Miller brought her characters to life well enough to see them as people you know - people that you love and hate.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted July 10, 2013

    Chikorita to anyone

    Im locked out of result one!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2013

    Onyx

    My mansion is at herdier

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Snivy

    Snivy's treehouse at gligar only res.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Emma

    Luvdisc is my tree house.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2013

    Wells

    MY MANSION IS AT RELICANTH!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    It's okay

    I liked it, but didn't think it was anything special.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 17, 2011

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    Posted December 14, 2009

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    Posted June 1, 2009

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