Synopses & Reviews
At fifty, Pippa Lee seems just fine. The devoted wife of a brilliant publisher thirty years her senior, the proud mother of successful twins, and a lovely and adored friend and neighbor, she seems to glow with feminine serenity. But when her husband spontaneously decides they should cast off Gramercy Park for Marigold Village retirement home as a "preemptive strike against his decrepitude," Pippa finds her beatific persona unraveling in alarming ways: the truth is that the gracious woman of the present day has seen more than her fair share of the wild side.
By seventeen, Pippa had lived with a Dexedrine-addicted mother, felt the first stirrings of sexuality with a school girlfriend, had an affair with a teacher, and run away from home, set adrift on a course littered with broken hearts until she seemingly found love and security in a family of her own. And now that established world, too, is in danger.
In Pippa Lee we have an unforgettable heroine, and a quirky and acutely intelligent portrait of the many lives behind a single name. Even after we've read it, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a story that is still unfurling.
"In this promising first novel, screenwriter/director Miller (The Ballad of Jack and Rose) probes the life of housewife Pippa Lee. Fifty-year-old Pippa lives a contented life with her older husband, Herb. However, everything changes when Herb announces that they are leaving Manhattan for a retirement community. Unsettled in her new home, Pippa begins sleepwalking through life literally. She catches herself on a security camera cooking and eating while unconscious, then finds evidence that her somnambulist self has taken up smoking. In light of her erratic behavior, Pippa reconsiders the life she has built for herself and the example she is setting for her two grown children: raised by a pill-addicted mother, Pippa ran away from home at 17 and struggled with drugs, abusive relationships and her own feelings of guilt before looking for redemption in the family that she now worries is falling apart. Pippa's struggle to break the 'chain of misunderstandings and adjustments' that passes from parent to child is moving. Despite a few moments of overwrought melodrama, the story's held together by Miller's sincere and intelligent protagonist." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is about the bewildering ways we become who are, the daily steps we take that end up being called 'a life.' It unfolds like a dream, like finding a door in your bedroom that you never noticed before, and slowly opening it, and coming upon a whole world on the other side, a world that you never knew existed. Rebecca Miller knows what all artists know that it is impossible to reveal a life in its fullness but in this wise and irreverent novel, the glimpses she allows us are stunning." Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
"The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a beautifully layered and subtle novel of identity, with a wonderfully vivid sense of place and character. And it's hesitatingly wise in all sorts of ways, as well as being a deftly constructed page-turner." Joseph O'Connor, author of Star of the Sea
At 50, Pippa Lee seems just fine. But the truth is that the gracious woman of the present day has seen more than her fair share of the wild side--until she found love and security in a family of her own. Now, it seems, that established world is in danger, too.
What part of our selves do we hide away in order to have a stable, prosperous life?
Pippa Lee has just such a life in place at age fifty, when her older husband, a retired publisher, decides that they should move to a retirement community outside New York City. Pippa is suddenly deprived of the stimulation and distraction that had held everything in place. She begins losing track of her own mind; her foundations start to shudder, and gradually we learn the truth of the young life that led her finally to settle down in marriage--years of neglect and rebellion, wild transgressions and powerful defiance.
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is the study of a brave, curious, multilayered woman--an acutely intelligent portrait of the many lives behind a single name.
About the Author
Rebecca Miller worked as a painter and actress before becoming a writer and director. She is the author of the short story collection Personal Velocity, her feature film adaptation of which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and also directed The Ballad of Jack and Rose, which starred her husband Daniel Day-Lewis, and Angela. She lives in Ireland and New York with her family.