George and Lizzie: A Novel

by Nancy Pearl

Hardcover, 2017

Call number

FICT PEA

Collection

Genres

Publication

Touchstone (2017), 288 pages

Description

"From "America's librarian" and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl comes an emotionally riveting debut novel about an unlikely marriage at a crossroads. George and Lizzie have radically different understandings of what love and marriage should be. George grew up in a warm and loving family--his father an orthodontist, his mother a stay-at-home mom--while Lizzie grew up as the only child of two famous psychologists, who viewed her more as an in-house experiment than a child to love. Over the course of their marriage, nothing has changed--George is happy; Lizzie remains ... unfulfilled. When a shameful secret from Lizzie's past resurfaces, she'll need to face her fears in order to accept the true nature of the relationship she and George have built over a decade together. With pitch-perfect prose and compassion and humor to spare, George and Lizzie is an intimate story of new and past loves, the scars of childhood, and an imperfect marriage at its defining moments"--… (more)

Library's review

An interesting first novel from a book expert who is one of the most charming, intelligent, and inspiring people you'd ever hope to meet. A quirky main character (Lizzie), along with some improbable high school sexual baggage ("The Game"), and "the one that got away" (Jack), will keep you guessing as to how this one will end. (Brian)… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member NewsieQ
Lizzie grows up in the Midwest, a lonely only child of academic parents – behavioral psychologists -- who haven’t a clue about how to raise a child and aren’t ever going to learn. Although Lizzie isn’t abused, she’s neglected in most of the ways that count. Mendel and Lydia are not the parents from hell but if there is any justice, they’re due a long sentence in purgatory.

The only person who truly knows our heroine as a child is her babysitter, Sheila, who is much more of an influence than Lizzie’s parents. Not surprisingly, Lizzie makes a series of regrettable choices in high school, choices that haunt her well into adulthood. In college, she falls for Mr. Wrong, who dumps her – the defining moment of her young life. Then she meets George, who – if not perfect – is ideal for poor Lizzie if only she can let herself love him without reservation, and let him love her in return. (If my synopsis seems bare-bones, it’s because part of the delight in reading George & Lizzie is not knowing what’s coming next and I’d hate to spoil the fun for anyone.)

Reading George & Lizzie was, for me, a bit slow at the start and I had my doubts whether I could get into it. Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t put it down. (I follow Nancy Pearl’s rule about how many pages a reader “owes” an author before putting a book down, and I followed the rule with George & Lizzie.)

The plot purrs along nicely, with some moving back and forth in time– something that takes a deft hand for an author to pull off. Nancy Pearl does it beautifully. Her writing is smart, witty (but not TOO witty) and often humorous. The characters have a familiar feel to them. George & Lizzie is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

George & Lizzie is not a typical love story and Lizzie, who has lots of rough edges, is definitely not a typical romantic heroine. But I found myself warming to her and wanting Lizzie and George to be happy. I am surprised the novel isn’t more book-centered, being that the author is a celebrity librarian.

Review based on publisher-provided copy of the book.
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LibraryThing member RaucousRain
Lizzie is a troubled girl, a teenager, when we first meet her. She did not enjoy a close loving relationship with her parents and had little guidance … and, boy-oh-boy, it shows! But George is a guy who grew up in a loving home and he turns out to be a most kind and compassionate man.

The story itself is okay … emotionally troubled girl and kindhearted man meet, marry, and have relationship difficulties. However, the book's strength was in its author's wonderful, sometimes quirky, writing. I especially enjoyed the amazing descriptions of the characters. The cadence of the dialogue was perfect, and at times the humor was laugh-out-loud brilliant.

The one area of weakness for me was that I usually prefer a more satisfying ending to a story. I don't need a happy ending, but I do like a tad more closure … but maybe that's just me. The way the book ended was more how it goes with real life.

This book was not what I expected – and yet I enjoyed it. I finished it on this one rainy day! And I look forward to reading Nancy Pearl's next novel.
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LibraryThing member bogopea
George and Lizzie, by Nancy Pearl, is different. But good different. Very good different. A day after finishing the book I can't get it out of my head. The novel is primarily about Lizzie, from being raised by atypical parents to acceptance of her life and optimism for the future. Lizzie grew up in a sterile environment without loving, caring parents. From there she develops into a person unwittingly set on self-destruction. After a semester of being in love with a fellow student who moves away, she spent years tormenting herself that he was her one true love and she was responsible for the breakup. She spent hours and years looking for him on the internet, social media, telephone books . . . everywhere she traveled. Even so, she developed a relationship, which led to marriage, with George. His upbringing could not have been more different . . . loving, wonderful parents and extended family. Lizzie eventually let's herself be married to him but doesn't stop looking for her true love until the end of the book, when she realizes she has found her true love in George. Of course, it's more than that, it's a story about a damaged soul who grew up believing the glass is always half-empty yet fortunately grasped at lifelines extended by the few she allowed in. It's a unique book: sad, funny, insightful, frustrating yet I became invested in her character as well as George and the others in her close circle. People were there for her but she had to quiet the voices in her head who told her she was worthless and, through life lessons, recognize that loving and being loved trumps everything. There is so much in this book that it should be a book club must read.… (more)
LibraryThing member mzonderm
As a public librarian, Nancy Pearl is, of course, my hero (yes, I have the Nancy Pearl action figure). Nobody does reader's advisory like Nancy Pearl does reader's advisory! So when I heard she wrote a book, I naturally wanted to read it right away. At the same, I was a little apprehensive, because knowing what goes into a good book doesn't necessarily mean that you can write a good book. I needn't have worried.

Although the book is called George & Lizzie, this is really Lizzie's story. One is tempted to say that she was raised by wolves, but of course that's not true. She was really raised by behavioral psychologists, who treated her every action as an idea for further research. Predictably, she acts out by doing some, shall we say, less-than-socially-acceptable things. These things have repercussions, of course, in her later relationships, but we can't help loving Lizzie, even while she does everything possible to sabotage her own life and happiness.

Then comes George. We learn enough about George's childhood and family to make him a believable character, but since the book still focuses more on Lizzie, the real question is whether she can get over herself long enough to actually make a positive long-lasting relationship with George. There were a few plot points that I couldn't quite suss out (including the somewhat important point of why Lizzie agreed to marry George in the first place when she was still obsessed (yes, obsessed) with someone else), but those confusions were easily overcome in the excellent writing that continued to pull me forward.

And pulled forward I was, right up until the very natural and well-done ending. Pearl never takes the easy road with her characters, and the whole book moves along without ever giving the reader the feeling that the whole thing is just one big contrivance. Brava to Mrs. Pearl for making the leap from reader to author. I look forward to reading more.
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LibraryThing member librarian1204
The world needs more Georges.
George and Lizzie meet at the University of Michigan. They meet at the bowling alley where George is trying to impress his date and a stoned Lizzie is trying to forget the boyfriend who left for the summer and never came back.
Lizzie is a difficult character, the product of emotionless, imperfect, parents, who just happen to be psych professors at UM.
In the process of acting out to get parental attention, she learns a great deal about football and football players. A major side effect, a guilt trip that will haunt her.
George is the good guy, the future dentist, with great parents. George has the ability to respond to events rather than react. A distinction that is lost on Lizzie.
Nancy Pearl chronicles their love story from their first meeting into marriage. She does this with insight, with humor and with great understanding.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Read as an ARC from NetGalley offered to librarians. Thank you.
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LibraryThing member Pet12
In her debut novel, Nancy Pearl tells the story of a marriage. It was beyond me why Lizzie and George got married in the first place and it remained a mystery to me why they stayed together. I have the feeling I kind of missed the point of this story. The main focus is on Lizzie. George, in my opinion, remained a bit of an underdeveloped character. While George stems from a supportive, loving family, Lizzie grew up as the only daughter of two behavioural psychologists who regarded her childhood and youth as research material for their work. In highschool Lizzie does something that keeps haunting her for years to come (another thing I didn’t understand. I would have just filed it under stupid adolescent ideas best to forget). The story keeps jumping back and forth in time and is interlaced with little vignettes about secondary characters relating to Lizzie’s high school escapades. While I got used to the nonlinear storyline, I failed to see the point of the vignettes. I don’t think they added anything significant to the book, but they weren’t particularly distracting either. I think this is where Pearl’s writing came in. I enjoyed her style and liked the underlying wit and this was certainly different from your standard relationship story.
Overall, a bit of a mixed bag which improved as the story progressed. Some humor, some emotions, and I liked the ending. But ultimately, I found it difficult to comprehend Lizzie’s behavior and her thought processes, and just blaming it on her messed up childhood/youth and unsupportive parents didn’t work for me either. Perhaps an interesting pick as a discussion book. I would imagine there’d be plenty of different views about Lizzie and George and their families and friends.
I received an ARC via NetGalley.
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LibraryThing member nyiper
I must admit that I was almost immediately turned off on the character of Lizzie---I agreed with her friend, Andrea---the Great Game idea was nuts! And the fact that the author had to keep bringing in descriptions of all of the players Lizzie slept with and what became of them---I kind of groaned each time another description appeared in the story. Jack's part was the almost ruination of Lizzie's marriage and maybe well-deserved. Her obsession with him, especially with the overwhelmingly wonderful description of her husband, George, made the marriage seem.....sad? Worthless? Lizzie was just not a character I could appreciate and I found it a little hard to believe that George could be so completely besotted over her, given all of her issues, which he listed! Yes, complete sympathy for her parenthood but the result? Is it all solved at the very last sentence in the book?

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Touchstone.
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LibraryThing member cnfoht
Had to get this, I have the Nancy Pearl action figure!
LibraryThing member LauraBrook
I'm sorry to say that I had to invoke the authors's own "Pearl Rule" at 50 pages. I just couldn't get into this book. Ms. Pearl is held in high regard at my house, and I was very excited (and honored) to be offered a copy from Touchstone. Saving it for a day off from work, I settled in with a hot cup of tea, opened the book...and felt unsettled and icky by page 12. Getting to page 50 was work, and while I don't need to like a main character to enjoy the book, I do have to at least care about them. And I didn't care about anyone in this book except for George and I just wanted to tell him to get out while he still could.

It's been a week since I bailed, and I've been trying to put my finger on what this book reminds me of. And to me it's a lot like "Franny & Zooey" by J.D. Salinger - you're dropped into the book, not much happens, lots of run-on sentences, and unlikable, blasé characters I couldn't give a rat's ass about. Salinger lost a couple of pegs that day, and I haven't picked up anything else of his since. Something about the feel of "F&Z" reminds me of this.

I'm disappointed in this first fictional foray of Nancy Pearl's, and I'll try her work again in future.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.
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LibraryThing member meredk
No rating or review, because I couldn't get past the first third of the book. The fairly non-existent plot, and the annoyingly quirky characters, left me cold.
LibraryThing member froxgirl
Nancy Pearl writes renowned books of book recommendations. Too bad that the dumbest premise ever frames her first novel and leads to its ruination. Lizzie, only child of two of the most horrible psychology professors imaginable, dreams up The Greatest Game: having sex once with the entire starting lineup of her high school football team. Her best friend initially decides to join in, so they can split up offense and defense, but she backs out and loses Lizzie's friendship by showing some common sense. Lizzie, completing the Game as to punishing her parents, also tells them about her accomplishment, which they of course write up in an academic journal, which causes Lizzie's boyfriend to break up with her when he finds out.

There's a good novel in here, about Lizzie's later life with her husband George, with her excellent in-laws, with her close friends, but it's really wasted by the Worst Game Ever Used To Ruin A Novel.

Quote (about Holocaust survivors): "Their response to having survived when so many others did not was guilt, but guilt wrapped in layers upon layers of anger, until the kernel of shame and self-reproach was unrecognizable, or at least they didn't acknowledge it in themselves. All that was left was a deep and abiding rage. They were furious about the recent past and disgusted with the present, and didn't view the future with any sanguinity."
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
Nancy Pearl has written a fun first novel, weaving in her love of literature along the way. The relationship of George and Lizzy seems to grow in strength despite Lizzy’s longing for a college lover.

Pages

288

ISBN

1501162896 / 9781501162893
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