Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel

Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel

by Wilton Barnhardt
3.3 19

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Overview

Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel by Wilton Barnhardt

One of Slate's and Kirkus Review's Best Books of 2013 and The New York Times, National Public Radio, and Indie Bound bestseller: "Lookaway, Lookaway is a wild romp through the South, and therefore the history of our nation, written by an absolute ringmaster of fiction." —Alice Sebold, New York Times bestselling author of The Lovely Bones

Jerene Jarvis Johnston and her husband Duke are exemplars of Charlotte, North Carolina's high society, where old Southern money—and older Southern secrets—meet the new wealth of bankers, boom-era speculators, and carpetbagging social climbers. Steely and implacable, Jerene presides over her family's legacy of paintings at the Mint Museum; Duke, the one-time college golden boy and descendant of a Confederate general, whose promising political career was mysteriously short-circuited, has settled into a comfortable semi-senescence as a Civil War re-enactor. Jerene's brother Gaston is an infamously dissolute bestselling historical novelist who has never managed to begin his long-dreamed-of literary masterpiece, while their sister Dillard is a prisoner of unfortunate life decisions that have made her a near-recluse.

As the four Johnston children wander perpetually toward scandal and mishap. Annie, the smart but matrimonially reckless real estate maven; Bo, a minister at war with his congregation; Joshua, prone to a series of gay misadventures, and Jerilyn, damaged but dutiful to her expected role as debutante and eventual society bride. Jerene must prove tireless in preserving the family's legacy, Duke's fragile honor, and what's left of the dwindling family fortune. She will stop at nothing to keep what she has—but is it too much to ask for one ounce of cooperation from her heedless family?

In Lookaway, Lookaway, Wilton Barnhardt has written a headlong, hilarious narrative of a family coming apart, a society changing beyond recognition, and an unforgettable woman striving to pull it all together.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250021502
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/20/2013
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 190,232
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Wilton Barnhardt is the author of Lookaway, Lookaway, a New York Times bestseller. His previous novels are Gospel, Show World, and Emma Who Saved My Life. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he teaches fiction in the master of fine arts in creative writing program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he lives.


Wilton Barnhardt is the author of Lookaway, Lookaway, a New York Times bestseller. His previous novels are Gospel, Show World, and Emma Who Saved My Life. A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he teaches fiction in the master of fine arts in creative writing program at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he lives.

Customer Reviews

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Lookaway, Lookaway: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
beh88 More than 1 year ago
Once you get past the sorority stuff the book is awesome.so much southern history info told within a great story. I loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first review of a book/ or online review of anything. I read constantly and I read everything, and I loved this book. It is hard to put it down yet I didn't want to finish it. I must admit, the first chapter of fraternity initiations caused me to wonder if I would like this book. But by the middle I was laughing out loud while reading it, which is very rare. You can't not love a book that makes you laugh out loud.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. People who are offended by language and sex won't like it. I was born and raised in the South. There is lots and lots of truth to this book. The author Lee Smith described it as satire which it is -- but, for me, it is true satire. Family and family connections do matter in the South!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jb70 More than 1 year ago
As I so often do, I did not read the synopsis when I borrowed this audio book from the library. I love starting a book with no preconceived idea of what it will be about. All I had to go on was the cover art and the title. My guess was that it was set in the South and in the past. I was right about it being the South, but not about the time period exactly. While it starts in the past, it is a more contemporary past than I expected. I was also thrown by how the characters were all going to tie together. It starts with Jerilyn going off to college and her mother telling her not to join a sorority, then Gaston the writer makes an appearance, and then each of the characters has a piece of the story so that the point of view changes. I wasn't sure at first how the college freshman and the drunk writer were going to fit together. I would listen while running and as scenes unfolded and characters were together the pieces just started to click together. This is a family full of secrets, some known by all but not spoken of, and some that are truly and deeply secrets. What do you do when your own family can't be counted on to be there for you? How much hurt and pain could be adverted by just taking the time to have honest conversations and how much do appearances really matter? And how long does one spend trying to break out of childhood roles and examples that were set at home?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SuZQ41 More than 1 year ago
A slow-starting book but as you sort out this flawed family, you won't be able to lay it down. I almost quit on the first chapter but was oh so glad I didn't. A great way to spend a snowy Michigan winter and escape to the Carolinas.
verbqueen More than 1 year ago
Utterly absorbing. I hated to say goodbye to Jerene and her fascinating family.
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sharynVA More than 1 year ago
This was entertaining and even educational all the way through.  Once you get through the disgusting fraternity initiation descriptions it becomes a book  about a captivating but flawed family and the secrets that have relentlessly  driven them from the past into a  desolate future.  How they get there is worth reading  every page.  Funny, insightful, educational and equally pathetic each character unfolds int their own unique, damaged way.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The new novel by Wilton Barnhardt, "Lookaway, Lookaway" is a sometimes humorous and occasionally biting look at Southern culture and the fall of a complex, imperfect, yet ultimately loveable family from North Carolina. Steeped in a struggle to maintain their social standing and a Southern gentility as phony as a Civil War reenactment featuring a cannon whose wheels won't stay on, the Johnstons of Charlotte have more than their share of shocking secrets. The novel is largely a telling of these secrets. The final disclosure -- one that reaches so deep it threatens the foundation of the reputation cultivated by generations of Johnstons -- triggers the tragic, insane, funny, and somehow endearing and hopeful ending. (There is no quit in that girl Jerene!) Each of the chapters (there are eleven rather long ones) is named after a central character. Each character is fully realized, three-dimensional, engendering in the reader as much love and pity as scorn and disgust. No small trick, Barnhardt made each chapter a mini-profile -- with no shortage of back story -- while simultaneously driving the main plot forward. Despite the number of characters, I was never confused about who was who or why they were behaving as they were. I take this as an indication that Barnhardt knows these lovable and flawed people better, probably, than his own family. (And now I do, too.) The novel's structure was fun and fitting. The book unfolds, chapter by chapter, like a layered image revealed one acetate at a time. The faulty, if rational, conclusions made by the reader when the image is just beginning to emerge are later clarified (surprise!) as the image grows more complete. A minor example: College football star Duke Johnston is publicly disappointed when an injury prevents his participation in Vietnam. Later, in the chapter devoted to Duke, we discover he was secretly relieved. Barnhardt obviously researched the Civil War for this book, and sprinkled into it just enough weird tidbits to keep it interesting. (I actually could have used a bit more of the surprising history, despite its relative irrelevance to the story and my having only a passing interest in the war.) Finally, this book is more than just a window into the foibles and shortcomings of Southern culture. Not unlike how "Emma Who Saved My Life" showed us it's OK to drop a dream if the dream turns out to be not as dreamy as you thought it would be, the hopeful message of "Lookaway, Lookaway" is that it's OK to fail. Everyone fails. Even those who succeed fail. Likewise, even those who fail succeed. Our dear Duke, for example, who has squandered the family fortune, feels like a failure until he realizes how much his family loves him despite his faults. (And we love him for realizing it.) Coming away from the book, I was left with the feeling that Barnhardt, who is obviously an aficionado of fine food and wine, must also be an awful gossip. I love gossips. NOTE: I received a free copy of the novel from the editor.
BamaBelle More than 1 year ago
As a southerner, I find this simpering family and their self-involvement offensive. I found none of the characters sympathetic. It pains me to think that some readers will believe that this tripe represents southern culture. I am a fool to have finished this book in the hope that it may have some redeeming parts. WRONG! I deleted it from my Nook. it is not worth the space.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Chapel Hill resident and thought the book looked funny in a Southern way. Although the book started out entertaining, I was quickly bored with the book. I put it down before the end of chapter 2.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm furious I wasted my money on this book.  It's awful and the description is misleading.  Don't bother.
kittieCH More than 1 year ago
This may not be the worst book I've ever read, but it's a close second! This story has no purpose... all negative with no redeeming qualities. A story about a completely dysfunctional family. If you're into non-feel good books, then perhaps you'll like this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are a civil war buff or southern hiistory scholar then plenty to interest you Interesting references to southern tradition and faniliar places
Beachbabe1 More than 1 year ago
I wouldn't read past page 40! Sorry I didn't read a sample, or I would never have ordered this. It is disgusting. I'm not a prude , but this book is trash. I don't know who wrote the promotional blurb for this, but they obviously didn't read very intently. Wish I could get my money back from Barnes and Noble. This doesn't even deserve one star.