"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"--
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Touchstone.
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.
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."