Truth and Consequences: A Novel

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Overview

Over the years, Alison Lurie has earned a devoted readership for her satiric wit and storytelling acumen. With Truth and Consequences, described by the New Yorker as "a comedy of adultery with a comedy of academia thrown in," Lurie returns with a modern social satire that recalls the best of David Lodge and Mary McCarthy as well as her own popular university novels The War Between the Tates and Foreign Affairs. BACKCOVER: "A wily, shapely tale of love's labors lost."
-Elle

"A ...

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Truth and Consequences: A Novel

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Overview

Over the years, Alison Lurie has earned a devoted readership for her satiric wit and storytelling acumen. With Truth and Consequences, described by the New Yorker as "a comedy of adultery with a comedy of academia thrown in," Lurie returns with a modern social satire that recalls the best of David Lodge and Mary McCarthy as well as her own popular university novels The War Between the Tates and Foreign Affairs. BACKCOVER: "A wily, shapely tale of love's labors lost."
-Elle

"A wry, insightful, thoroughly enjoyable tale about how men and women choose their demons and their lovers, and the sacrifices they're willing to make for both."
-The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Delightful . . . Her characters are, as always, wonderfully imperfect."
-The New York Review of Books

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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
Whereas The War Between the Tates nimbly captured the emotional weather of the late 1960's and early 70's, Ms. Lurie's new book, Truth and Consequences, doesn't even try to give the reader a big picture window on the way we live today. Still, it provides two engaging central characters…And the story motors along smoothly on sheer professional craft. The result isn't a terribly original or memorable novel, but a pleasant enough read nonetheless.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Lurie's various academic romances, set against the backdrop of a thinly veiled Cornell University, point in a straight line to tragicomic double-think relationship writers like Lorrie Moore. This latest foray begins promisingly: Jane MacKenzie fails to recognize her own husband, Alan, as he approaches their house from a distance, so bent and changed is he by his aching back. He's an architecture professor (expert on Victoriana); she's a university administrator. When visiting poet Delia Delaney takes up residence, it's Jane who has to attend to her diva-like demands, while simultaneously trying to cope with an incapacitated Alan. Once he's up and around, though, sexy and selfish Delia toys with, then seduces him. The affair gives Alan a midlife lift, and, on discovery, gives Jane a reason to leave him, perhaps for Henry, Delia's ombudsman husband and Jane's highly organized mirror-image. The problem is that Lurie, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning Foreign Affairs is everything this isn't, doesn't seem much interested in fleshing out her characters' romps. Remedial repetitions of basic facts, character descriptions and plot points throughout give the proceedings a strangely clinical feel, as if her characters' reactions were too base to engage with fully: they are reported almost dutifully, though not without offhand flashes of crackly brilliance. 5-city author tour. (Oct. 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel Foreign Affairs, Lurie looks at what can happen when two couples, each seemingly well matched, find themselves at different places in their lives. Jane and Alan Mackenzie, residents of a fictional college town, had what seemed to be the perfect marriage until Alan suffers a back injury that changes his life and demeanor. Jane, feeling obliged by her wedding vows, becomes his overworked and underappreciated caregiver. But then the beautiful and conniving Delia Delany, a visiting scholar, picks Alan as her next conquest. Enjoying the attentions of someone he sees as finally understanding his pain, Alan willingly follows her. Meanwhile, finding themselves caught in the crossfire of the affair, Jane and Delia's oft-overlooked husband, Henry Hull, are driven together and wind up falling in love. Lurie explores what happens when the truth isn't always told and the consequences of our every choice. Engrossing and wonderfully written, this novel would make a good book club selection. Highly recommended, especially where Lurie's other books are popular. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/05.]-Leann Restaino, Girard, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A once-happy marriage jumps the tracks when a charismatic writer accepts a fellowship at the small college in upstate New York where both husband and wife work. Jane and Alan Mackenzie are a model couple. He is a 51-year-old professor of architecture and expert on Victorian-era follies (the faux ruins of stone towers and hermitages Britain's landed gentry built to enhance their estates); she, 11 years younger, is a quietly in-charge college bureaucrat who runs a program for visiting scholars. Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of husband and wife, the novel charts the disintegration of their marriage, which initially begins to fray when a minor injury on a volleyball court-Alan admits he was showing off for the younger faculty-segues into chronic back pain. Their home life becomes a hellish stand-off between need and resentment. While Jane is stepping and fetching for her husband in her off hours-prescriptions for pain killers, packs of ice, heating pads, more pillows-her day job as administrator is transformed by the arrival of Delia Delaney, renowned writer and unrepentant id-on-wheels. Only Delia's long-suffering husband Henry knows how demanding she can be: She needs a sofa for her office. Less light. Fewer visitors. A deadbolt on her door. Silence! Jane and Henry find they are on common ground as helpmates-and commiserate with one another, complicating Jane's self-image as a "good" person. Alan and Delia also discern they have much in common. Delia, who suffers from migraines, helps Alan own his pain, find his inner artist and resurrect his sexuality. Pulitzer Prize-winner Lurie (The Last Resort, 1998, etc.) is a keen observer of consciences in conflict. There arepassages here (though too few) that remind the reader of her considerable artistic authority. But the characters rarely act outside selfish motives, and in the end, who cares who ends up with whom? They all deserve each other. A tepid affair by an author capable of incandescence.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670034390
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/6/2005
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Alison Lurie is the author of many highly praised novels, including The War Between the Tates, The Truth About Lorin Jones (Prix Femina Etranger), and Foreign Affairs (Pulitzer Prize for fiction). Her most recent book was Familiar Spirits. She teaches writing, folklore, and literature at Cornell University.

Biography

Alison Lurie is the author of many highly praised novels, including The War Between the Tates, The Truth About Lorin Jones (Prix Femina Etranger), and Foreign Affairs (Pulitzer Prize for fiction). She teaches writing, folklore, and literature at Cornell University.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Hometown:
      Ithaca, New York; London, England; Key West, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 3, 1926
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      A.B., Radcliffe College, 1947

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2006

    okay but could have been better

    This book is hard to get started, but becomes an easy read. The characters go through some change, but the depth doesn't go very far. The author doesn't let the characters grow enough and as a result, I knew what the ending of the story was about 1/2-3/4 through the book. This is an okay read, but your time could be better spent on a better book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    AN UNDERSTATED YET COMPELLING READING

    Pulitzer Prize winner Alison Lurie once again sets her sights and satiric pen on scholarly saints and sinners by placing 'Truth and Consequences' in a university community. Lurie, as many know, teaches writing, folklore and literature at Cornell University. However, Jane MacKenzie, her protagonist, is not a teacher but an administrator and a good, faithful wife. She and Alan, a professor, have been happily wed for many years. They're a couple most would envy - intellectual, well positioned in life, and secure. Their well ordered existence begins to crumble when Alan develops a back problem. It becomes so debilitating that his career suffers and Jane finds herself becoming his nurse. Sad to say it isn't a miracle of medicine that seems to cure Alan's back but the solicitations of newly arrived Delia Delaney, a beautiful best-selling novelist. She, in turn, is married to Henry who eventually finds himself attracted to Jane. What a pleasure it is to hear about the romps and relationships among the intelligentsia as related in the stage trained voice of Jamie Heinlen. She often appears in New York theater, a training that is evident in her understated yet compelling performance. Heinlen effortlessly glides between the comic and the desperate treating listeners to a bravura reading. - Gail Cooke

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

    Posted October 5, 2005

    Shallow is as Shallow Does

    This is a tale of lifestyles, egos, self-absorption and shallowness. It starts as a story of a happy couple who have exactly what they bargained for. A satifying life playing roles that are not too deep or meaningful to themselves or each other. They each have talent, in their own way, and tolerate each other until the 'reality' of one having to give, while the other takes becomes a barrier to growth. While each one was limited in how much energy had to be expended in their relationship, all was well. When one becomes a special concern and requires looking after, the entire marriage crumbles. You get a glimpse at how it is to live up to an 'image' and how that image permeates one's existance even more than everyday life. For some, as long as we appear to be who we planned to become, all is well. When change is required and there is nothing beneath the surface, things will change. What is very rewarding in this story is that we all get exactly what we deserve no matter how we feel. Water does seek its own level and these characters are absorbed into other lives with the same amount of falseness and shallow thinking they deserve.

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    Posted December 7, 2009

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