Venus Envy

( 14 )

Overview

At thirty-five, Mary Frazier Armstrong, called "Frazier" by friends and enemies alike, is a sophisticated woman with a thriving art gallery, a healthy bank balance, and an enviable social position.  In fact, she has everything to live for, but she's lying in a hospital bed with a morphine drip in her arm and a life expectancy measured in hours.  "Don't die a stranger," her assistant says on her last hospital visit.  "Tell the people you love who you are."  And so, as her ...
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Venus Envy

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Overview

At thirty-five, Mary Frazier Armstrong, called "Frazier" by friends and enemies alike, is a sophisticated woman with a thriving art gallery, a healthy bank balance, and an enviable social position.  In fact, she has everything to live for, but she's lying in a hospital bed with a morphine drip in her arm and a life expectancy measured in hours.  "Don't die a stranger," her assistant says on her last hospital visit.  "Tell the people you love who you are."  And so, as her last act on earth, Frazier writes letters to her closest family and friends, telling them exactly what she thinks of them and, since she will be dead by the time they receive the letters, the truth about herself: she's gay.

The letters are sent.  Then the manure hits the fan in Charlottesville, Virginia, because the funny thing is, Frazier Armstrong isn't going to die after all.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Frothy fun from the queen of southern sexual farce."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Hilarious and touching."
--Ms. magazine

"From tear-jerking hilarity to Kleenex-level sadness."
--Daily News, New York

"Witty and tender."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The risible title is arguably the best thing about Brown's latest comic novel, the tale of a woman who unwittingly comes out of the closet in midlife when she is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Under the impression that she is on her deathbed, wealthy North Carolina art dealer Mary Frazier Armstrong mails a series of brutally candid letters to her kith and kin, only to discover that she isn't dying after all. Brown delivers some nicely sketched southern characters: Mary Frazier's imperious mother, Libby, whose long-simmering anger has poisoned her daughter's life; her sensitive brother, Carter, an alcoholic redneck whose lifelong self-destructiveness is partly a response to Mary Frazier's success; her closeted lover, Ann, who is made uncomfortable by their claustrophobic secret life; and her dazzlingly outrageous gay friend Billy Cicero. But this gallery of character sketches cannot save the story from predictability and a deeply unconvincing resolution. Arch dialogue, lack of plot and an overall inattentiveness to nuance are the distinguishing features here. Fans of Brown's previous books ( Bingo ; Rest in Pieces ) may enjoy this story, but first-time readers are bound to be disappointed. (Apr.)
Marie Kuda
Glamorous Mary Frazier Armstrong--definitely on the "A" list, with a pedigree stretching back to 1640--has run a successful art gallery in Charlottesville, Va., since leaving Sotheby's some years ago. When medicos tell her she's got only days to live, she fires off a batch of letters telling relatives and friends she's gay. But before they can reach their destinations, she learns she's been--oops!--misdiagnosed. When the missives land, the southern manners and graces of a cast of deliciously drawn characters splatter, and only wise, widowed Aunt Ru and gallery employee Mandy stand by Frazier (as she's familiarly called). The climax of Frazier's self-outing comes at the Dogwood Festival. While her mother plays social martyr and her ne'er-do-well brother shows up with his socially unacceptable fiancee, she has a contretemps with her closeted, "born-again heterosexual" ex-girlfriend, who's parading her latest beau-for-show. The confrontation sets off comic fireworks that have the politer country-clubbers diving for cover under the boxwoods and azaleas. The last six chapters dissolve into fantasy as Frazier, changing an electrical fixture, gets zapped onto Mt. Olympus. This is Brown at her comic best, chipping away at stereotypes, social artifice, and dishonesty. If--tinged by her 1970s radical pamphleteering pedantry--"Venus Envy" isn't her finest book, it's still a fun read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553564976
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 851,819
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 6.85 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Rita Mae Brown

 
Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of several novels, including the Sneaky Pie Brown series, the Sister Jane series, Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, and Six of One, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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(6)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

    Bleh

    Wish I had purchased a different novel.

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

    Posted December 17, 2011

    Boring

    This is an incredible boring book. A total waste of money. This book droned on and on and seem to be going no where. Total disappointment.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted September 17, 2002

    Desiree-high school student from PA

    I loved this book so much! I just kept wanting the book to go on and on. Ms. Brown did an excellent job on this book and I cannot wait to read her other books.

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

    Posted July 2, 2002

    Too good to put down!

    I loved this book and you will too! It's everything a fun novel is supposed to be!

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

    Posted April 10, 2002

    AMAZING!!!

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is sooooo easy to relate to, I loved every minute of it. Thank you Rita for giving the world this work of art!!! One of my farvorites, second only to Rubyfruit Jungle.

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

    Posted August 29, 2000

    This Book Makes Me Happy.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have read others by Ms.Brown, but this is my favorite. It is a fabulous example of southern upper-class culture dealing with something that money cannot fix. It is a heartening and entertaining look at lesbianism, without the melancholy strains often present in such fiction. Also, you can't help but enjoy a story about someone telling the truth and living through it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted March 23, 2012

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    Posted July 2, 2011

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    Posted January 24, 2010

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    Posted January 4, 2012

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    Posted December 21, 2009

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    Posted November 20, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 16 of 14 Customer Reviews

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