Beginner's Luck: A Novel

Beginner's Luck: A Novel

by Laura Pedersen
4.6 42

NOOK Book(eBook)

$11.99
View All Available Formats & Editions
Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
Want a NOOK ? Explore Now

Overview

Beginner's Luck: A Novel by Laura Pedersen

“There could be no doubt left in anyone’s mind that my life had all the makings of a country-and-western song.”

The second of seven children (with another on the way), Hallie Palmer has one dream: to make it to Vegas. Normally blessed with an uncanny gift for winning at games of chance, she’s just hit a losing streak. She’s been kicked out of the casino she frequents during school hours, lost all her money for a car on a bad bet at the track, and has been grounded by her parents. Hallie decides the time as come to cut her losses.

Answering an ad in the local paper, she lands a job as yard person at the elegant home of the sixty-ish Mrs. Olivia Stockton, a wonderfully eccentric rebel who scribes acclaimed poetry along with the occasional soft-core porn story. Under the same wild roof is Olivia’s son, Bernard, an antiques dealer and gourmet cook who turns out mouthwatering cuisine and scathing witticisms, and Gil, Bernard’s lover, whose down-to-earth sensibilities provide a perfect foil to the Stocktons’ outrageous joie de vivre. Here, in this anything-goes household, Hallie has found a new family. And she’s about to receive the education of her life.

From a wonderful new voice in fiction comes the freshest and funniest novel to barrel down the pike since Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. In Beginner’s Luck, Laura Pedersen introduces us to the endearing oddballs and eccentrics of Cosgrove County, Ohio, who burst to life and steal our hearts–and none more so than Hallie Palmer, sixteen, savvy, and wise beyond her years, a young woman who knows life is a gamble . . . and sometimes you have to bet the house.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307414656
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 17,271
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Laura Pedersen is an author and playwright from Buffalo, New York. After finishing high school in 1983, she moved to Manhattan and began working on the American Stock Exchange, later spending the better part of the 1990s writing for The New York Times. In 1994, President Clinton honored her as one of Ten Outstanding Young Americans. She has appeared on varioius TV shows, including Oprah, Good Morning America, Primetime Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman. In 2001, her first novel, Going Away Party, won the Three Oaks Prize for fiction. Her other books include Beginner's Luck, The Big Shuffle, Heart's Desire, and Last Call. Laura lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Beginner's Luck 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
PennyStox23 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and so did all of my friends and even my 12-year-old daughter. It's a hilarious and sweet-natured upbeat story and fun for all ages. The well-crafted and endearing characters that are so believable that it feels as if they live next door. Lucky actors who get to play them on TV or in a movie! Can't wait for the sequel. Hopefully Bernard is still cooking and Olivia is still protesting and Gil is still "the normal one."
BettyKostovich More than 1 year ago
BEGINNER'S LUCK is a high-spirited old-fashioned novel with enough realism about the ups and downs of friends and family to keep it grounded. No, the events in this book probably haven't happened to most of us, but I certainly wish some of them would. The larger theme is that we make our own fun in good times and bad, and we don't need a life filled with money or fame for it to be replete with laughs, good times, and even success. In this tough economic and political climate it was a relief and a pleasure to enjoy some laugh-out-loud humor, delightful prose, and optimism. It's apparent that Pedersen is a humanist and believes people are inherently good, given the chance, and she shares her warmth and hopefulness on the page in a way that reminded my book group how grateful we are for the small and large things -- a plate of warm cookies, a child prevailing over difficulties -- but in the author's capable hands the small pleasures seem large and the big problems don't seem so problematic. People matter, not things. To paraphrase the author: It's the kind of novel that can make you feel lucky, if you believe in luck.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hallie Palmer has a lot of choices to make and it was a pleasure to watch her navigate those decision trees against a background of people, institutions, and even local customs all trying to sway her every move. The series 'I also read HEART'S DESIRE and THE BIG SHUFFLE' is somehow reminiscent of the Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gable books, but with a modern sensibility for the concerns of our times and certainly a topical sense of humor. Pedersen somehow manages to stealthfully touch on American foreign policy, the death of Main Street and the conflict over gay Boy Scout troop leaders in a charming story about the adventures of a teenage girl in small town midwestern American. Actually no surprise, since in addition to being about the importance of friendship, the novel is concerned with the need for kindness, civility, respect for others, understanding, and old-fashioned decency. These are all things that I wish many of our current leaders and corporate heads had a lot more of. The garden in Beginner's Luck suggested to me not only a sense of optimism, but a reminder that all life is sacred, especially that which needs to be tended by others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fun a witty coming of age tale about a girl who doesn't quite fit looking for a way out. Hallie Palmer is smart and charming and Laura Pedersen creates a wonderful cast of characters that inculde the hilarious Stocktons. If you want a fun and original coming of age tale, this is a sure bet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beginner's Luck is better than having four aces in your hand! Sassy and spirited characters saunter through a plot that is witty, warm and wild. Author Laura Pedersen deals readers a winning combination of talent and creativity. So, ante up the purchase price of this book you are guaranteed not to lose! Sixteen-year-old Hallie Palmer knows life is a gamble, so she ups the stakes when she drops out of school and takes a position as yard person at the Stockton house. Her employer, Olivia, is an elderly woman who writes poetry as easily as porn, while her unconventional son is a gourmet cook whose mouthwatering dishes are usually accompanied by a mouth full of clever wisdom. As Hallie trims the hedges and mows the lawn, she uncovers a new way of looking at the cards life has dealt her. Yet, when the time comes for her to cash in her chips and move on, will she be able to go back to gambling now that she's seen a sure thing? Laura Pedersen gives new meaning to the term, 'full house'! The Stockton residence is a lively mix of people who all espouse somewhat eccentric ways of thinking. These characters literally leap off the pages, perhaps startling readers a bit at first, but quickly settling down to a firm friendship. I wouldn't be surprised if the author told me these people sat on her shoulder and dictated their dialogue it's that believable and genuine! The plot also stretches to touch on a variety of hot and interesting topics, from homosexuality to educational techniques to political injustice. Reading this book is a lot like playing cards each page deals a new combination of thoughts, which makes this novel one-of-a-kind!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Definitely the best book I have ever read in my teenage years! I am not a lover of books, but this novel held my interest.(and it is still enjoyed the third and fourth times) Any teenage girl can relate to Hallie's experiences in the novel. Hilarious and well-written. An easy read for the beach or on the couch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great, charming, fresh, imaginative story. Didn't want it to end. Will be just as enjoyable in 20 or 50 years time. Appealing to all ages. Glad there's a sequel coming soon. Love Rocky the chimpanzee and Hallie the teenage gambling whiz and Olivia the free spirit -- and well, everyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got into these Pedersen novels (also LAST CALL) through my wife's book group. If you enjoy great humor without the nastiness, cheap jokes, of bad language or standup and some of the late night shows, then this is the ticket. A throwback to a simpler time, but with well-drawn characters, a sweet story, and clever dialogue. I laughed out loud a lot. One more like this and I'm going to be the first guy in the book group. Cucumber sandwich anyone?
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a delightful surprise! My local library featured this book and then had a discussion about it. There's something wonderfully charming and old-fashioned about the style and story even though it takes place in the present and certainly doesn't avoid modern problems. A nice depiction of American life -- that people are basically good-hearted and trying their best. A wonderful break from the news, especially if you're tired of politics and disheartened by war. Also, despite a nice storyline and terrific characters, this book is hilarious. I laughed out loud so many times that my husband says that he's going to read it. Now I have started reading LAST CALL and it's entirely different, but I'm enjoying it. Though I'm glad a sequel to BEGINNER'S LUCK is on the way. I can't wait to find out what happens to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My mother, who is 83, enjoyed this book. So did my daughters, who are 17 and 13. I loved it too. We're still talking about our favorite characters. Glad there is a sequel because we've placed bets on what happens to Hallie next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I've read thus far. The characters are unforgetable, and the story is wonderful. I couldn't put the book down and was sad when I came to the end of the book. Can't wait until her next book hits the shelves!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The laughs of a sitcom with the heart of a good drama and sweet story. Didn't want it to end. It's amazing that Hollywood can make so many terrible movies when there's a great group of characters like this just waiting to jump onto the screen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I probably wouldn't have selected this novel since I prefer historical fiction, but my book group chose it and I absolutely LOVED IT. One of the funniest and most charming books I've read in a long time. Bought 8 copies for friends young and old. The message about friendship falls on the shoulders of a younger person in the novel, but it's a good one, since as we get older and lose family, or they move far away, it seems friends take on those roles. Beginner's Luck has everything - humor, great characters, crisis, romance, and even a little mystery. Looking forward to the sequel (read the first chapter at www.LauraPedersenBooks.com).
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great book that uses small town life in an updated way, without all the cliches. Yes, there are a few eccentric characters, Olivia and Bernard (her 30ish son), in particular, but they are believable and just like people I've known. In fact, Olivia could just be considered politically active. The story centers around 16-year-old Hallie, who runs away from home and ends up living with these folks. She's an engaging narrator and the sometimes is the center of her story and other times leaves the stage open for Olivia and Bernard to work their hilarious magic. It's an engaging book and I read it practically from cover to cover over one weekend. The novel itself takes place from September until June and as a poet I particularly enjoyed the way Pederson incorporated the change of seasons into her themes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read, well paced,humerous.i thoroughly enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I throughly enjoyed this book. The characters were so interesting and quirky. I could just picture in my mind everything written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
Hallie is a sixteen-year-old who marches to the beat of her own drum, and finds herself trapped in a Procrustean world of rules and regulations, school bells and deadlines, and no one to appreciate her for who she is. Then she meets the tenants of Nuthatch Lane, and she has never felt so normal! There is the senior Unitarian Ms. Olivia, a vegetarian pornography-writing smuggler and poet who is fighting for freedom of speech and separation of church and state. She's a wild bohemian who is always leading the bandwagon for some cause. I love when Ms. Olivia is sharing a conversation she had with the school principal about his Procrustean approach to school in regards to Hallie: "...They don't want a freethinking person in their establishment. No, absolutely not. They want blocks of soft, malleable clay that they can carve and shape into their own images. People have a child and then set about tugging the strings to make that child dance to their own tune-- become what they've envisioned a child of theirs should be. I said to him, 'Mr. Collier, with all due respect, one of your trained seals has risen up from the man-made pool and spat in the eye of the zookeeper.' " (page 124) By this point in the book, I think I have fallen in love with Ms. Olivia. Mr. Bernard, the gay son of Ms. Olivia, is always at odds with his mother, but in a good-natured sort of way. You can feel the great love between mother and son. A gourmand and antiques collector, he lives with his mother and his lover Gil, who is the most "normal" of the bunch! I love the quirky characters that drive this book. Free-thinking and supportive, the Stocktons offer a strong foundation for Hallie and give her a leg-up on life. And I love having the opportunity to stand beside Hallie as she navigates her way through new experiences and challenges. This is truly a "coming of age" story, and Hallie is a very likable girl. This book is full of hot topic issues, and at times I felt that the author may be pushing her own agenda. However I tried to look beyond this. For the most part, I enjoyed Ms. Olivia's passionate spirit, and only a few times did I feel somewhat "manipulated" by a storyline that seemed to be a proponent for certain social-political ideas. One thing that really bugged me was the inclusion of the chimp Rocky. I'm not sure what the point was of having him around. I just found him to be a distraction. I grew to dread any passages containing Rocky, as they were just ridiculous. So I tried to just work my way around Rocky, viewing him as something of an obstacle to the storyline for me, and continued on my merry way once I'd made it past him. There is some minor vulgarity-- the kind of expletives you would expect even the best of kids to utter on occasion. Typical teen "situations", but nothing too untoward. I would be more cautious of the political and religious subject matter, and whether or not you are comfortable with your child reading ideas that may not jive with your own. You just have to know your own child, and whether they have a mind of their own or not. This was an enjoyable story with great characters full of interest. There are some sensitive subjects addressed, some minor vulgarity, and that stupid chimp to contend with, but a good story all around. I'd recommend this to anyone who enjoys a light coming-of-age YA story with a whimsical twist.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Had trouble getting through it. The entire situation seemed absurd.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great story that is timely but timeless. Characters are well-developed and you truly feel that they are real. In fact, hopefully they are real and out there somewhere. Eccentricity and quirkiness not overplayed. Some sweet moments of real life -- friendship, loneliness, feeling misunderstood, etc. Something for everyone. Discovered this one through my book group. Look forward to more just like it.