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The Lake Shore Limited

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The Lake Shore Limited Cover

ISBN13: 9780307264213
ISBN10: 0307264211
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Four unforgettable characters beckon you into this spellbinding new novel from Sue Miller, the author of 2008s heralded best seller The Senators Wife. First among them is Wilhelmina—Billy—Gertz, small as a child, fiercely independent, powerfully committed to her work as a playwright. The story itself centers on The Lake Shore Limited—a play Billy has written about an imagined terrorist bombing of that train as it pulls into Union Station in Chicago, and about a man waiting to hear the fate of his estranged wife, who is traveling on it. Billy had waited in just such a way on 9/11 to hear whether her lover, Gus, was on one of the planes used in the attack.

The novel moves from the snow-filled woods of Vermont to the rainy brick sidewalks of Boston as the lives of the other characters intersect and interweave with Billys: Leslie, Guss sister, still driven by grief years after her brothers death; Rafe, the actor who rises to greatness in a performance inspired by a night of incandescent lovemaking; and Sam, a man irresistibly drawn to Billy after he sees the play that so clearly displays the terrible conflicts and ambivalence of her situation.

How Billy has come to create the play out of these emotions, how it is then created anew on the stage, how the performance itself touches and changes the other characters lives—these form the thread that binds them all together and drives the novel compulsively forward.

A powerful love story; a mesmerizing tale of entanglements, connections, and inconsolable losses; a marvelous reflection on the meaning of grace and the uses of sorrow, in life and in art: The Lake Shore Limited is Sue Miller at her dazzling best.

Review:

"Four people are bound together by the 9/11 death of a man in Miller's insightful latest. Leslie, older sister and stand-in mother to the late Gus, clings to the notion that Gus had found true love with his girlfriend, Billy, before he was killed. But the truth is more complicated: Billy, a playwright, has written a new play that explores the agonizing hours when a family gathers, not knowing the fate of their mother and wife who was aboard a train that has been bombed. The ambivalent reaction of the woman's husband has shades of Billy and Gus's relationship, particularly the limbo she's been in since he died. Rafe, the actor playing the ambivalent husband, processes his own grief and guilt about his terminally ill wife as he steps more and more into his character. Finally, there's Sam, an old friend Leslie now hopes to set up with Billy. While the plot doesn't have the suspense and zip of The Senator's Wife, Miller's take on post-9/11 America is fascinating and perfectly balanced with her writerly meditations on the destructiveness of trauma and loss, and the creation and experience of art." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

Four unforgettable characters beckon readers into this spellbinding new novel from the author of the explosive "New York Times" bestseller "The Senator's Wife." Miller's latest is a tour de force about the dislocations wrought in our lives by accidents of fate and time, and about how we try to make peace with whom we become in the face of circumstances beyond our control.

Synopsis:

Four unforgettable characters beckon you into this spellbinding new novel from the author of last year’s explosive New York Times best seller The Senator’s Wife. First among them is Wilhelmina—Billy—Gertz, small as a child, fiercely independent, powerfully committed to her work as a playwright. The novel centers around her play, The Lake Shore Limited, about the terrorist bombing of that train—and about a man waiting to hear the fate of his estranged wife who is traveling on it. How Billy comes to write the play out of her own painful conflicts and ambivalence, how it is then created anew by the actors and the director, how the performance itself touches and changes the other characters’ lives—these form the vital core of a story that drives the novel compulsively forward.

There’s not a wasted word in this tour de force about the dislocations wrought in our lives by accidents of fate and time, and about how we try to make peace with whom we become in the face of circumstances beyond our control.

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About the Author

Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels The Senators Wife, Lost in the Forest, The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Ann S, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Ann S)
This novel tells about a group of people affected by 9/11/2001. It's beautifully written (like everything by Sue Miller) and the responses were complex and changed over time. I especially liked the playwright and how Miller gradually reveals that she is more affected than we realize at first.
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dynester, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by dynester)
I've been a fan of Sue Miller's books and this one didn't disappoint. Lake Shore Limited is a 9/11 book without being a 9/11 book. I especially appreciated her ability to create a sense of loss and to speak convincingly through many characters while weaving a play through the novel. Her evocation of Boston and the New England landscape is just right.
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OneMansView, March 12, 2010 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Sometimes it takes a play (4.5 *s)

This novel is a very close, character-intensive, examination of four inter-connected individuals, who make rather uncertain efforts at understanding, making needed adjustments, and accepting the shortcomings of their less-than-perfect spousal, or equivalent, relationships. The author uses the connections and reactions of the characters to a play “The Lake Shore Limited,” produced by one of the characters Billy Gertz, which has some scenarios that pertain to their lives, to greatly enhance that examination. In the play, a train is subject to a terrorist act with heavy loss of life. The central character in the play Gabriel is completely conflicted as he must cope with feelings of both convenience and guilt concerning the likelihood of his wife’s death and what that would mean to his lengthy affair with another woman.

The author very effectively switches the perspective among these four characters, adding breadth to thoughts and actions while providing background and steadily advancing the story. Leslie is the instigating character, now in her late fifties, living in Vermont somewhat as an appendage to her rich, doctor husband Peter and rather unhappily. It has been six years since her beloved, much younger brother Gus died in the horrors of nine-eleven. Leslie is sustained by the belief that Gus had found happiness in his life as a well-liked instructor at a Boston prep school, and, more importantly, by having found a woman he truly loved, Billy Gertz. Some years before, Leslie had become infatuated with an architect Sam to whom she had sold property as a real estate agent, he being married at the time, but now divorced. The story is launched when Leslie with some trepidation makes plans to see Billy’s new play, wondering what it will say about Billy and Gus, while conspiring to have Sam attend as a “gift” from her to Billy, who she perceives as having never gotten over Gus’ death.

The play and thereby Billy’s efforts to attain some closure concerning the actualities of her relationship with Gus, not to mention the awakened perceptions by others, and her interactions with Sam and Rafe, who plays Gabriel, come to pretty much dominate the story. Unbeknownst to most, the situation of having a terminally ill wife makes playing Gabriel a highly emotional experience for Rafe. A key development of the story is the effort, not without its intimacy, of Billy and Rafe to help each other in arriving at understandings that give depth to Rafe’s performances and permit Billy to experience her play such that the ambiguities of the entire Gus situation is lessened. Sam, less tightly connected to the others, is a bit of an observer as these matters are played out. However, despite no real significant compatibilities with Billy, there seems to be an irresistibility to her that very tentatively starts to be realized.

This book is undoubtedly one of the author’s better efforts. It is a very insightful look into relationships, especially the reality checks that are required and the misperceptions that can be held. The book moves along well, seamlessly as she shifts character perspectives, with scarcely a wasted word. The characters are very sympathetically and effortlessly portrayed. Perhaps one would have liked to have seen more closure with Billy and Sam; however, one suspects the clarity achieved during the run of the play will be highly facilitating. The book may be viewed as a broad statement about the impact that a prescient book, movie, or play can have on lives, if one is listening.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307264213
Author:
Miller, Sue
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
20100406
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9.54x6.62x1.08 in. 1.16 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » Contemporary

The Lake Shore Limited Used Hardcover
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$6.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780307264213 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Four people are bound together by the 9/11 death of a man in Miller's insightful latest. Leslie, older sister and stand-in mother to the late Gus, clings to the notion that Gus had found true love with his girlfriend, Billy, before he was killed. But the truth is more complicated: Billy, a playwright, has written a new play that explores the agonizing hours when a family gathers, not knowing the fate of their mother and wife who was aboard a train that has been bombed. The ambivalent reaction of the woman's husband has shades of Billy and Gus's relationship, particularly the limbo she's been in since he died. Rafe, the actor playing the ambivalent husband, processes his own grief and guilt about his terminally ill wife as he steps more and more into his character. Finally, there's Sam, an old friend Leslie now hopes to set up with Billy. While the plot doesn't have the suspense and zip of The Senator's Wife, Miller's take on post-9/11 America is fascinating and perfectly balanced with her writerly meditations on the destructiveness of trauma and loss, and the creation and experience of art." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Four unforgettable characters beckon readers into this spellbinding new novel from the author of the explosive "New York Times" bestseller "The Senator's Wife." Miller's latest is a tour de force about the dislocations wrought in our lives by accidents of fate and time, and about how we try to make peace with whom we become in the face of circumstances beyond our control.
"Synopsis" by , Four unforgettable characters beckon you into this spellbinding new novel from the author of last year’s explosive New York Times best seller The Senator’s Wife. First among them is Wilhelmina—Billy—Gertz, small as a child, fiercely independent, powerfully committed to her work as a playwright. The novel centers around her play, The Lake Shore Limited, about the terrorist bombing of that train—and about a man waiting to hear the fate of his estranged wife who is traveling on it. How Billy comes to write the play out of her own painful conflicts and ambivalence, how it is then created anew by the actors and the director, how the performance itself touches and changes the other characters’ lives—these form the vital core of a story that drives the novel compulsively forward.

There’s not a wasted word in this tour de force about the dislocations wrought in our lives by accidents of fate and time, and about how we try to make peace with whom we become in the face of circumstances beyond our control.

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