The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

When we meet Pippa Lee in the dreamlike opening chapters of Rebecca Miller's first novel, she seems anything but complex. As the third wife of Herb, a literary lion 30 years her senior, Pippa has managed to settle herself neatly into a trophy wife's mold, having produced twins and played the consummate hostess to the publishing cognoscenti for decades. But Herb's heart attack and the couple's abrupt move to a suburban retirement community jar the serenity and security of her existence, releasing Pippa from the demands of city society while being surrounded by octogenarians. Through ensuing episodes of walking in her sleep (and eating, smoking, and driving), Pippa discovers her lost voice, literally, as she sets off on a path to recover the memory of her lost self ?- the speed-popping, S&M wild child she was before she met Herb. Switching to a first-person narrative, the story's pace changes dramatically as Pippa offers reminiscences that reveal the quiet voice of an observer who, despite emerging "from Suky's womb fulsome and alert, fat as a six-month-old, and covered in fine, black fur," has been reactive almost all her life. Miller, as daughter of the illustrious Arthur and wife of Daniel Day-Lewis, should understand what it is like to stand in the long shadow cast by a famous man. However, Miller's painting, acting, and writing and directing films have established her as a success in her own right. Perhaps that is why she gives us a Pippa who scrutinizes her "secret lives" and discovers that she may still have more to offer at 50 years of age than a perfectly golden crŠme brûlée.

April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.