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The Man of My Dreams: A Novelby Curtis Sittenfeld
Synopses & Reviews
1 June 1991
julia roberts is getting married. It's true: Her dress will be an eight-thousand-dollar custom-made two-piece gown from the Tyler Trafficante West Hollywood salon, and at the reception following the ceremony, she'll be able to pull off the train and the long part of the skirt to dance. The bridesmaids' dresses will be sea-foam green, and their shoes (Manolo Blahnik, $425 a pair) will be dyed to match. The bridesmaids themselves will be Julia's agents (she has two), her makeup artist, and a friend who's also an actress, though no one has ever heard of her. The cake will be four-tiered, with violets and sea-foam ribbons of icing.
What I want to know is where's our invitation? Elizabeth says. Did it get lost in the mail? Elizabeth--Hannah's aunt--is standing by the bed folding laundry while Hannah sits on the floor, reading aloud from the magazine. And who's her fiance again?
Kiefer Sutherland, Hannah says. They met on the set of Flatliners.
Is he cute?
He's okay. Actually, he is cute--he has blond stubble and, even better, one blue eye and one green eye--but Hannah is reluctant to reveal her taste; maybe it's bad.
Let's see him, Elizabeth says, and Hannah holds up the magazine. Ehh, Elizabeth says. He's adequate. This makes Hannah think of Darrach. Hannah arrived in Pittsburgh a week ago, while Darrach--he is Elizabeth's husband, Hannah's uncle--was on the road. The evening Darrach got home, after Hannah set the table for dinner and prepared the salad, Darrach said, You must stay with us forever, Hannah. Also that night, Darrach yelled from the second-floor bathroom, Elizabeth, this place is a bloody disaster. Hannah will think we're barn animals. He proceeded to get on his knees and start scrubbing. Yes, the tub was grimy, but Hannah couldn't believe it. She has never seen her own father wipe a counter, change a sheet, or take out trash. And here was Darrach on the floor after he'd just returned from seventeen hours of driving. But the thing about Darrach is--he's ugly. He's really ugly. His teeth are brownish and angled in all directions, and he has wild eyebrows, long and wiry and as wayward as his teeth, and he has a tiny ponytail. He's tall and lanky and his accent is nice--he's from Ireland--but still. If Elizabeth considers Kiefer Sutherland only adequate, what does she think of her own husband?
You know what let's do? Elizabeth says. She is holding up two socks, both white but clearly different lengths. She shrugs, seemingly to herself, then rolls the socks into a ball and tosses them toward the folded pile. Let's have a party for Julia. Wedding cake, cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off. We'll toast to her happiness. Sparkling cider for all.
Hannah watches Elizabeth.
What? Elizabeth says. You don't like the idea? I know Julia herself won't show up.
Oh, Hannah says. Okay.
When Elizabeth laughs, she opens her mouth so wide that the fillings in her molars are visible. Hannah, she says, I'm not nuts. I realize a celebrity won't come to my house just because I invited her.
I didn't think that, Hannah says. I knew what you meant. But this is not entirely true; Hannah cannot completely read her aunt. Elizabeth has always been a presence in Hannah's life-- Hannah has a memory of herself at age six, ri
Hannah Gavener's fantasies about family, romance, and love collide headlong with the challenges, complexities, and realities of adult life and relationships, in an insightful coming-of-age novel by the author of Prep. 150,000 first printing.
“Being raised in an unstable household makes you understand that the world doesn’t exist to accommodate you, which, in Hannah’s observation, is something a lot of people struggle to understand well into adulthood.”–from The Man of My Dreams
In her acclaimed debut novel, Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld created a touchstone with her pitch-perfect portrayal of adolescence. Her prose is as intensely realistic and compelling as ever in The Man of My Dreams, a disarmingly candid and sympathetic novel about the collision of a young woman’s fantasies of family and love with the challenges and realities of adult life.
Hannah Gavener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In the magazines she reads, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah’s own life, her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes–just maybe–lie the answers to love’s most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hannah finds that the questions become more rather than less complicated: At what point can you no longer blame your adult failures on your messed-up childhood? Is settling for someone who’s not your soul mate an act of maturity or an admission of defeat? And if you move to another state for a guy who might not love you back, are you being plucky–or just pathetic?
None of the relationships in Hannah’s life are without complications. There’s her father, whose stubbornness Hannah realizes she’s unfortunately inherited; her gorgeous cousin, Fig, whose misbehavior alternately intrigues and irritates Hannah; Henry, whom Hannah first falls for in college, while he’s dating Fig; and the boyfriends who love her more or less than she deserves, who adore her or break her heart. By the time she’s in her late twenties, Hannah has finally figured out what she wants most–but she doesn’t yet know whether she’ll find the courage to go after it.
Full of honesty and humor, The Man of My Dreams is an unnervingly insightful and beautifully written examination of the outside forces and personal choices that make us who we are.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Curtis Sittenfeld’s first novel, Prep, was a national bestseller. It was chosen as one of the Ten Best Books of 2005 by The New York Times, will be published in fourteen foreign countries, has been optioned by Paramount Pictures. Sittenfeld’s nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, Allure, Glamour, and on NPR’s This American Life. She lives in Philadelphia. Visit her website at www.curtissittenfeld.com.
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