Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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.)
"[A] mystery that's barely a mystery but is every bit an absorbing and funny novel....[I]nsightful and engaging." Library Journal
"Fowler's clever insights eventually sink in as more profound than they initially seemed." Kirkus Reviews
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.
If you loved The Jane Austen Book Club, youll revel in Wits End, a sly and clever novel of mystery, intrigue, and virtual reality.
Wits End is many things: a quest novela young womans search for the truth about her dead fathers past; a mysterythe story of a long-ago murder in which that father might have been complicit; and a gameone 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 Rimas 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 Wits 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 overexcept by authors.
Above all, Wits 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.
"[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.
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.