An ear for language of the highest order, profound compassion for characters, an eye for the smallest shifts in the cultural landscape, and a preternatural understanding of motivation and behavior -- Ann Beattie's renowned storytelling abilities, for which she won the 2000 PEN/Bernard Malamud Prize, are on dazzling display in The Doctor's House.
We open this novel to a woman's account of her brother's sexual appetites and his betrayals of his lovers, which he has a need to confess to his sister. Nina, a reclusive copy editor, should have better things to do than to track Andrew's escapades. Since her husband's tragic death, she has become solitary and defensive -- and as compulsive about her brother as he is about sex.
When the first movement ends, the melody is taken up by their mother. New shadows and new light fall on Nina's account as painful secrets of life in the house of their father, the doctor's house, emerge. In the dramatic third movement, the brother gives us his perspective, and as Beattie takes us into Andrew's mind, there is the suggestion that Nina is less innocent and less detached than she maintains.
Through subtle shifts, The Doctor's House chronicles the fictions three people fabricate in order to interpret, to justify, or simply to survive their lives. "Few novelists," said The Washington Post, "are more adept at creating fictional atmospheres that eerily simulate the texture of everyday life."
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About the Author
Hometown:Maine and Key West, Florida
Date of Birth:September 8, 1947
Place of Birth:Washington, D.C.
Education:B.A., American University, 1969; M.A., University of Connecticut, 1970
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The perspectives in the book were interesting. We got to see the events of the characters' lives through the eyes of three of the family members and learn how their own dyfunctions changed the way they saw things happening. The ways they coped with an alcoholic father/husband-who was in good standing in the community-were different but all had the same result-unhappiness. This is not a 'feel good' book that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling when you put it down. It is a book about alcoholism, infidelity and unhappiness. The book, as a whole, left me feeling cheated--like not getting to see the final act of a play or the last half hour of a movie, so that when I closed it I didn't feel like it should be over just yet. It reinforced the fact that life isn't a finished work and that things are not always seen by people through rose-colored glasses. Life, for some people, truly is an unhappy state of existence.