Title: While I Was Gone
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Incorporated, New York, NY, U.S.A.
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Edition: First Edition.
A FINE/ FINE unread copy protected by Brodart Archival Cover. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 000582
Synopsis: A decade ago she put a face on every mother's worst nightmare with her phenomenal best-seller The Good Mother. Now, Sue Miller delivers a spellbinding novel of love and betrayal that explores what it means to be a good wife.
In the summer of 1968, Jo Becker ran out on the marriage and the life her parents wanted for her, and escaped--for one beautiful, idyllic year--into a life that was bohemian and romantic, living under an assumed name in a rambling group house in Cambridge. It was a time of limitless possibility, but it ended in a single instant when Jo returned home one night to find her best friend lying dead in a pool of blood on the living room floor.
Now Jo has everything she's ever wanted: a veterinary practice she loves, a devoted husband, three grown daughters, a beautiful Massachusetts farmhouse. And if occasionally she feels a stranger to herself and wonders what happened to the freedom she once felt, or how she came to be the wife, mother, and doctor her neighbors know and trust--if at times she feels as if her whole life is vanishing behind her as she's living it--she need only look at her daughters or her husband, Daniel, to recall the satisfactions of family and community and marriage.
But when an old housemate settles in her small town, the fabric of Jo's life begins to unravel: seduced again by the enticing possibility of another self and another life, she begins a dangerous flirtation that returns her to the darkest moment of her past and imperils all she loves.
While I Was Gone is an exquisitely suspenseful novel about how quickly and casually a marriage can be destroyed, how a good wife can find herself placing all she holds dear at risk. In expert strokes, Sue Miller captures the precariousness of even the strongest ties, the ease with which we abandon each other, and our need to be forgiven. An extraordinary book, her best, from a beloved American writer.
Review: In her still startling debut, The Good Mother, Sue Miller explored the premium we put on passion--and the terrible burden it places on a mother and child. Her fourth novel, While I Was Gone, is another study in familial crime and punishment. But this time, her wife and good mother is accessory to more than emotional malfeasance. Jo Becker has everything a woman could desire: a loving spouse, contented children and a nice dog or two. When her New England veterinary practice takes on a new client, however, her past comes back to haunt her. Long ago, it seems, Jo had escaped her family and identity for a commune in Cambridge. Her Aquarian illusions came to an abrupt, bloody end when one of her housemates was brutally murdered.
Now this unhappy era returns in the person of Eli Mayhew, who had been the odd man out in Jo's boho household. His appearance is both tantalising and upsetting:
"Inside, I slowed down. I felt numbed. I had two last patients, and then I told Beattie to go home, that I'd close up ... I re-filed the last charts, sprayed and wiped the examining table. I reviewed my list of routine surgeries for Wednesday. All the while I was thinking of Eli Mayhew, and of Dana and Larry and Duncan and me, and our lives in the house. Of the horrible way it had all ended."Sue Miller's fine novel is a penetrating--and sensuous--portrait of a woman besieged by her conscience. While I Was Gone also demonstrates that in the face of distance and betrayal, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing indeed. --Winnie Wheaton
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