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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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Wit's End

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Wit's End Cover

ISBN13: 9780399154751
ISBN10: 0399154752
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the author of the runaway bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club comes a sly and clever novel of mystery, intrigue, and virtual reality.

Set in contemporary Santa Cruz, Wit's End opens as Rima Lanisell arrives at her godmother’s old Victorian mansion, weary from her recent losses — an inventive if at times irritating father, a beloved brother. (Indeed, Rima seems to lose people and things habitually — sunglasses and keys, lovers and family members.) At loose ends, she has come to coastal California to regroup and to meet that legendary godmother. She soon finds herself enmeshed in a household of eccentrics: a formerly alcoholic cook and her irksome son, two quirky dog-walkers, a mysterious stalker, and of course, godmother Addison Early, a secretive and feisty bestselling mystery writer who once knew Rima's father well. Perhaps too well. Rima is on a mission to discover just what their relationship was all about.

That won't be easy. Over the years, Addison has fought fiercely to protect her work and her privacy, even as her passionate fans have become ever more intrusive. In this age of the Internet, with its blogs, chat rooms, and websites, its Wikipedia, false personas, and hidden identities, those fans have begun to take over her plotlines and the life of her famous fictional detective. For many of those fans, Maxwell Lane is more real than Addison herself. So Wit's End is also a highly original take on they way dedicated readers appropriate their favorite books, perhaps the one act of theft applauded the world over — except by authors. Word has it that Addison is so beleaguered, so distracted by her fans' Web postings, that she has writers block.

Traveling back into the past, firmly rooted in the present, Wit's End is storytelling at its best. It is also Karen Joy Fowler at her most subversive and witty, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is utterly and memorably her own.

Review:

"At the start of this quietly funny, slightly mysterious novel of discovering one's roots from bestseller Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club), 29-year-old Rima Lanisell visits her estranged godmother, Addison Early, in Addison's house by the sea, Wit's End, in storied Santa Cruz, Calif. Addison, the wildly successful but cautiously private author of the Maxwell Lane mysteries, was once the girlfriend of Rima's recently deceased father, Bim, for whom a character in the series is named. For each novel, Addison first constructs a dollhouse diorama that depicts what will be the principal murder scene, but her upcoming novel and its dollhouse are uncharacteristically delayed. By weeding through decades-old correspondence with eccentric fans and the contemporary channels of online forums, Rima slowly discovers the truth behind Addison's novels and that Rima herself is a topic of interest among Maxwell Lane devotees. As Fowler analyzes our modern-day relationship to novels and writers' relationship to their readers, the line between fiction and reality blurs — real people become characters in another's blog as fictional characters become real to the fans that fetishize them. Author tour. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"'The Jane Austen Book Club' could not have been better designed or timed. Karen Joy Fowler's fourth novel appeared in 2004 at the intersection of two massive forces in American publishing: women's book clubs and the Austen revival. With its sharp wit and clever allusions to 'Emma' et al., the story rotated through a year's worth of meetings involving six members of a book club in California. If the... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[A] mystery that's barely a mystery but is every bit an absorbing and funny novel....[I]nsightful and engaging." Library Journal

Review:

"Fowler's clever insights eventually sink in as more profound than they initially seemed." Kirkus Reviews

Synopsis:

The author of The Jane Austen Book Club presents another highly inventive novel — one that ensnares readers in cunning deceptions, challenging them to separate the truth from fiction.

Synopsis:

"[A] delightful and eccentric new tale"(The Boston Globe) from the author of the runaway bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club

In Karen Joy Fowler's newest novel, the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club once again delivers top-notch storytelling, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is utterly and memorably her own. Wit's End is a clever, playful novel about finally allowing oneself to grow up-with a dash of mystery thrown in.

At loose ends and weary from her recent losses-the deaths of an inventive if at times irritating father and her beloved brother-Rima Lansill comes to Wit's End, the home of her legendary godmother, bestselling mystery writer Addison Early, to regroup...and in search of answers. For starters, why did Addison name one of her characters-a murderer-after Rima's father? But Addison is secretive and feisty, so consumed with protecting her famous fictional detective, Maxwell Lane, from the vagaries of the Internet that-rumor has it- she has writer's block. As one woman searches for truth, the other struggles to control the reality of her fiction.

Rima soon becomes enmeshed in Addison's household of eccentrics: a formerly alcoholic cook and her irksome son, two quirky dog-walkers, a mysterious stalker, the tiny characters that populate Addison's dollhouse crime-scene replicas, and even Maxwell Lane himself. But, wrapped up in a mystery that may or may not be of her own creation, Rima discovers to her surprise that the ultimate solution to this puzzle is the new family she has found at the house called Wit's End.

Playfully exploring the blurred boundaries between reality and virtual reality, fiction and fact, Karen Joy Fowler subverts the whodunit and gives us a thoroughly modern meta-mystery with wit, warmth, and heart.

Synopsis:

If you loved The Jane Austen Book Club, yo‛ll revel in Wi‛s End, a sly and clever novel of mystery, intrigue, and virtual reality.

Wi‛s End is many things: a quest novel—a young woma‛s search for the truth about her dead fathe‛s past; a mystery—the story of a long-ago murder in which that father might have been complicit; and a game—one that ensnares readers in cunning deceptions, challenging them to separate the true from the fictive.

Set in contemporary Santa Cruz, the novel centers on Rima Lanisell, a young woman at loose ends, having just lost her father to cancer. (Rima seems to lose people and things habitually— sunglasses and car keys, lovers and family members.) Now she has come to coastal California at the behest of her godmother, Addison Early, who once knew Rim‛s father well. Perhaps too well. Rima is on a mission to discover just what that relationship was really about.

Addison, a bestselling mystery writer, is secretive and feisty. Over the years, she has tried to protect her work and her privacy as her passionate fans have become ever more intrusive. In this age of the Internet, with its blogs, chat rooms, websites, its Wikipedia, false personas, and hidden identities, those fans have begun to take over the plot lines and the life of her famous fictional detective. For many, he is more real than Addison herself. So Wi‛s End is also a highly inventive take on the way dedicated readers appropriate their favorite books, perhaps the one act of theft applauded the world over—except by authors.

Above all, Wi‛s End is Karen Joy Fowler at her most subversive and witty, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is uniquely and memorably her own.

About the Author

Karen Joy Fowler, A PEN/Faulkner and Dublin IMPAC nominee, is the author of Sarah Canary, The Sweetheart Season, Black Glass: Short Fictions, and Sister Noon.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Kelly L, March 17, 2012 (view all comments by Kelly L)
Mystery lovers and loyal fans of Fowler will enjoy the main character Rima's search for her identity and family history. After the recent death of her father, she moves to Santa Cruz to visit her godmother, the mystery writer A. B. Early, in order to connect with her past and recover from her grief.

Quirky characters, a vivid setting, and light, clever writing made this the perfect reading on a plane trip for me. If the mystery itself had been more prominent, I might have liked this book as much as "Sarah Canary" or even "Jane Austen Book Club;" but even as my least favorite Fowler, "Wit's End" is still a fun, fast read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
redeyereader, June 20, 2009 (view all comments by redeyereader)
My favorite moment in this book is one in which the main character, Rima, is out to dinner with the woman, Addison, whom she’s staying with and an eavesdropper flashes them the Star Trek Vulcan hand gesture, much to their surprise and confusion. While Rima and Addison will never understand why that is, we understand that the man was confused about what he’d been overhearing. Fowler will crack you up with these easter eggs of humor illustrating the little misunderstandings of the everyday.

Enjoy.

redeyereader.com
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780399154751
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Fowler, Karen Joy
Publisher:
Plume
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
General
Subject:
Authors
Subject:
Authorship
Subject:
Characters and characteristics in literature
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
20090428
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
8
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.37x5.72x1.16 in. .98 lbs.
Age Level:
14

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Wit's End Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Putnam Publishing Group - English 9780399154751 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At the start of this quietly funny, slightly mysterious novel of discovering one's roots from bestseller Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club), 29-year-old Rima Lanisell visits her estranged godmother, Addison Early, in Addison's house by the sea, Wit's End, in storied Santa Cruz, Calif. Addison, the wildly successful but cautiously private author of the Maxwell Lane mysteries, was once the girlfriend of Rima's recently deceased father, Bim, for whom a character in the series is named. For each novel, Addison first constructs a dollhouse diorama that depicts what will be the principal murder scene, but her upcoming novel and its dollhouse are uncharacteristically delayed. By weeding through decades-old correspondence with eccentric fans and the contemporary channels of online forums, Rima slowly discovers the truth behind Addison's novels and that Rima herself is a topic of interest among Maxwell Lane devotees. As Fowler analyzes our modern-day relationship to novels and writers' relationship to their readers, the line between fiction and reality blurs — real people become characters in another's blog as fictional characters become real to the fans that fetishize them. Author tour. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[A] mystery that's barely a mystery but is every bit an absorbing and funny novel....[I]nsightful and engaging."
"Review" by , "Fowler's clever insights eventually sink in as more profound than they initially seemed."
"Synopsis" by , The author of The Jane Austen Book Club presents another highly inventive novel — one that ensnares readers in cunning deceptions, challenging them to separate the truth from fiction.
"Synopsis" by ,
"[A] delightful and eccentric new tale"(The Boston Globe) from the author of the runaway bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club

In Karen Joy Fowler's newest novel, the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club once again delivers top-notch storytelling, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is utterly and memorably her own. Wit's End is a clever, playful novel about finally allowing oneself to grow up-with a dash of mystery thrown in.

At loose ends and weary from her recent losses-the deaths of an inventive if at times irritating father and her beloved brother-Rima Lansill comes to Wit's End, the home of her legendary godmother, bestselling mystery writer Addison Early, to regroup...and in search of answers. For starters, why did Addison name one of her characters-a murderer-after Rima's father? But Addison is secretive and feisty, so consumed with protecting her famous fictional detective, Maxwell Lane, from the vagaries of the Internet that-rumor has it- she has writer's block. As one woman searches for truth, the other struggles to control the reality of her fiction.

Rima soon becomes enmeshed in Addison's household of eccentrics: a formerly alcoholic cook and her irksome son, two quirky dog-walkers, a mysterious stalker, the tiny characters that populate Addison's dollhouse crime-scene replicas, and even Maxwell Lane himself. But, wrapped up in a mystery that may or may not be of her own creation, Rima discovers to her surprise that the ultimate solution to this puzzle is the new family she has found at the house called Wit's End.

Playfully exploring the blurred boundaries between reality and virtual reality, fiction and fact, Karen Joy Fowler subverts the whodunit and gives us a thoroughly modern meta-mystery with wit, warmth, and heart.

"Synopsis" by , If you loved The Jane Austen Book Club, yo‛ll revel in Wi‛s End, a sly and clever novel of mystery, intrigue, and virtual reality.

Wi‛s End is many things: a quest novel—a young woma‛s search for the truth about her dead fathe‛s past; a mystery—the story of a long-ago murder in which that father might have been complicit; and a game—one that ensnares readers in cunning deceptions, challenging them to separate the true from the fictive.

Set in contemporary Santa Cruz, the novel centers on Rima Lanisell, a young woman at loose ends, having just lost her father to cancer. (Rima seems to lose people and things habitually— sunglasses and car keys, lovers and family members.) Now she has come to coastal California at the behest of her godmother, Addison Early, who once knew Rim‛s father well. Perhaps too well. Rima is on a mission to discover just what that relationship was really about.

Addison, a bestselling mystery writer, is secretive and feisty. Over the years, she has tried to protect her work and her privacy as her passionate fans have become ever more intrusive. In this age of the Internet, with its blogs, chat rooms, websites, its Wikipedia, false personas, and hidden identities, those fans have begun to take over the plot lines and the life of her famous fictional detective. For many, he is more real than Addison herself. So Wi‛s End is also a highly inventive take on the way dedicated readers appropriate their favorite books, perhaps the one act of theft applauded the world over—except by authors.

Above all, Wi‛s End is Karen Joy Fowler at her most subversive and witty, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is uniquely and memorably her own.

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