About this Item
Quantity Available: 1
Title: The Doctor's House
Publisher: Center Point Pub, Thorndike, Maine, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Good
About this title
An impeccable ear for language, an eye for the smallest shifts in the cultural landscape, and a preternatural understanding of motivation and behavior—Ann Beattie's renowned storytelling abilities are on dazzling display in The Doctor’s House.
The novel opens to Nina’s account of her brother’s sexual appetites and betrayals, and leads into her mother’s narrative. As new shadows and light are cast on Nina’s story, painful secrets of life in her father’s house—the doctor’s house—emerge. In the dramatic third movement, the brother gives us his perspective. Through subtle shifts, The Doctor’s House chronicles the fictions three people fabricate in order to survive their lives and showcases the keen observances of family and culture that have made Beattie one of our most admired voices.
In The Doctor's House Ann Beattie gives us a brother, a sister, and a mother--all attempting to make sense of themselves, each other, and their tyrannical father/husband. The novel consists of three narratives. First, Nina, a forlorn copyeditor still mourning her husband's sudden death, takes an interest in her brother Andrew's past sexual exploits and relationships (he contacts ex-lovers who then seek out Nina to mull over his wayward promiscuity). Second, Nina's alcoholic mother, always distant from her children and hurt by her physician husband's self-absorption and countless affairs, offers her view. Third, Andrew analyzes his father's behavior and gives us his take on looking up old flings.
Unfortunately Nina and Andrew aren't terribly engaging: a depressed Nina trudges through life, and the majority of the novel proceeds accordingly. The mother's point of view is the most interesting. She shares hypotheses about why her children are inseparable yet estranged from their parents. The reader hears about the father only through the family's accounts of his rage, twisted logic, and proclivities, all of which easily justify the dysfunctional state of the family. Nina summarizes her family in succinct prose: "My father never smiled; my mother narrowed her eyes when her lips turned up, as if happiness caused her discomfort. Andrew did smile: a slow, almost dreamy smile, his face so relaxed he might have been falling asleep to sweet dreams as he looked into your eyes. I never saw that expression except for the times we were alone." The Doctor's House has its moments, but fans of Beattie will continue to champion her stories foremost. --Michael Ferch
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