Showing 471 - 480 of 571 annotations in the genre "Novel"

The Good Husband

Godwin, Gail

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Stanford, Ann Folwell

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Magda Danvers, the brilliant English professor and scholar of Blake, is dying of cancer, "the Great Uncouth . . . my final teacher." The novel tracks the course of her illness and her husband, Francis's (who is a former Roman Catholic seminarian) untiring care of her until the end. In addition, the deteriorating marriage of Alice (who has just suffered a miscarriage) and the novelist Hugo Henry is examined alongside of Magda's and Francis's as Alice befriends Magda and Francis throughout the final course of Magda's illness.

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All the Western Stars

Williams, Philip Lee

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Narrated by Jake Baker, a 73-year-old who'd been sent to a nursing home by his niece, this novel recounts the adventures of Jake and Lucas Kraft after they leave a nursing home to become cowboys. Lucas is a writer whose pessimistic view of life is the opposite of Jake's. Never able to tell the truth about himself, Lucas has lost both fame and love but not his lust for life.

The two men hitchhike west (with a series of crazy drivers) and eventually find jobs on a Texas ranch. Jake falls in love with Betty, perhaps the foulest-mouthed cook ever invented; Lucas finds Sally Crandall, his ex-wife, a movie star, and the love of his life, who's performing in a cowboy-and-Indians movie not far from the ranch. Jake and Lucas actually do become cowboys (in the movie).

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Nibbled to Death by Ducks

Campbell, Robert

Last Updated: Nov-25-1998
Annotated by:
Taylor, Nancy

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This mystery novel, set in Chicago, centers on a nursing home called The Larkspur. Chips Devlin is, after the death of his housekeeper, placed in The Larkspur by a relative. Chips has been a mentor to Jimmy Flannery, who tries to find out why Chips has been so hastily put there.

Nosing around through Chicago's political and public service offices. Jimmy calls in favors and hands them out in an effort to learn what's really going on at The Larkspur, the 3-story converted mansion with a big back yard (complete with duck pond). After an elderly man who Jimmy had asked to be a lookout is murdered, Jimmy kidnaps Chips from The Larkspur but can't keep himself from trying to help those that remain by solving the murder.

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The Commodore

O'Brian, Patrick

Last Updated: Nov-16-1998
Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This is the 17th of Patrick O'Brian's novels about the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey of the British Navy, and his friend, Stephen Maturin, the ship's surgeon and secret intelligence agent. Aubrey is a large, hearty, cheerful man who loves music and astronomy, and whose fortunes wax and wane as O'Brian follows him through numerous engagements and exploits around the world, roughly from 1800 to 1815. (While the early books in this series place Aubrey in some of the actual sea battles of the British war against Napoleon, "real time" gets suspended in the later novels.)

Maturin is small, dark, and secretive; of Irish and Basque descent; and a Roman Catholic. Nonetheless, he hates Napoleon so much that he becomes an agent for the British, working under the intelligence chief, Sir Joseph Blaine. Maturin is also a famous physician and naturalist, and he plays the cello to Aubrey's violin. The two men are the closest of friends, despite their many differences; in fact, this series of novels is the story of two complex and engaging characters and their years of friendship, as much as it is a series of sea yarns and adventures.

In The Commodore, Aubrey and Maturin have returned to England after a protracted trip around the world that occupied the previous four novels. Aubrey happily spends time with his wife and children, but Maturin discovers that his wife, Diana, has disappeared and his young daughter appears to be autistic.

Shortly, Aubrey receives orders to lead a squadron of ships to the west African coast, where he is to harass the slavers and, on the return voyage, to engage a French squadron being sent (secretly) to attack Ireland. Maturin joins the squadron after carrying his daughter to safety in Spain. They successfully knock off some slaving ships and terrorize the Coast of Guinea, before hurrying back to the southwestern coast of Ireland where they catch up with the French ships and defeat them.

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The Short History of a Prince

Hamilton, Jane

Last Updated: Sep-30-1998
Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The Short History of a Prince is the story of Walter McCloud beginning in his teens and ending as he approaches forty, told alternately in Walter’s adolescent and adult voice. Weaned on Balanchine and Tchaikovsky by his eccentric, cultured aunt, the teenage Walter dances and dreams of playing the Prince in The Nutcracker. Supported by his loving family, including his older jock brother Daniel, Walter confronts the ambiguities of sexual identity as he becomes more aware of his conflicting feelings for his two best friends, Mitch and Susan (also dancers and far more talented).

Suddenly Walter’s pleasant, routinized family life is interrupted when his brother Daniel becomes ill, transforming his life, his parents’ life, and his friend Susan’s life when she becomes romantically involved with Daniel even with the knowledge of his terminal diagnosis. The following year is full of change surrounding Walter’s acknowledgment of his love for and subsequent involvement with his friend Mitch, and his ultimate response to Daniel’s dying. The adult Walter, a first-year English teacher near the McCloud summer home at Lake Margaret, Wisconsin (after a career at a doll house shop in New York City), is still trying to understand the meanings of family, love, desire, and friendship.

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The Thanatos Syndrome

Percy, Walker

Last Updated: Aug-24-1998
Annotated by:
Martinez, Richard

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Dr. Tom More, from Love in the Ruins (see this database), now middle-aged, returns to Feliciana after spending two years in prison for selling prescriptions of Dalmane and Desoxyn at a truckstop. On his return to his psychiatric practice, More observes that two of his former patients are acting strangely. In his own words: "In each there has occurred a sloughing away of the old terrors, worries, rages, a shedding of guilt like last year's snakeskin, and in its place is a mild fond vacancy, a species of unfocused animal good spirits." (21)

More observes that his wife Ellen and his children have also undergone some mysterious personality change. More, the scientist-physician, with the help of his cousin Dr. Lucy Lipscomb, launches a search for the cause of these and other observations. More and Lucy discover that John Van Dorn, head of the computer division of the nearby Grand Mer nuclear power plant and Dr. Bob Comeaux, director of the Quality-of-Life Division of the Federal Complex overseeing euthanasia programs, are involved in social engineering, releasing Heavy Sodium into the water supply to "improve" the social welfare.

Throughout the novel, Dr. Tom More returns several times to evaluate and talk with Father Rinaldo Smith, a parish priest who has exiled himself to a firetower overlooking the vast pine forest of Feliciana. More has been asked by Comeaux, who sits on the probationary board overseeing More's return to practice, to declare Father Smith crazy, so that Comeaux can take over Father Smith's hospice and put it to better use. The conversations between More and Father Smith contain the philosophic and moral themes that support the plot and action of the novel.

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To the Lighthouse

Woolf, Virginia

Last Updated: Aug-21-1998
Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The Ramsay family are spending the summer in their holiday house on the Isle of Skye. Mr. Ramsay, a mathematician, and his wife, who runs the home, have eight children, including the beautiful Prue, who is likely to be married soon, and James, the youngest, still fiercely attached to his mother. There are also assorted guests, including Charles Tansley, one of Mr. Ramsay's students; Lily Briscoe, a keenly observant painter; and Mr. Carmichael, an opium-addicted poet.

James wants to be taken by boat to visit the lighthouse and his mother encourages him, but his father, enraging James, says it'll be impossible because of the weather. That night Mrs. Ramsay gives a dinner party where she orchestrates the complex dynamics of the family and their guests into a perfect social unit, which is presented as a kind of work of art.

This is followed by a short interlude, "Time Passes," which marks a shift in scale from the human to a wider view, where encroaching darkness and dissolution threaten the house and the lives connected to it. During this period, Mrs. Ramsay dies, Prue marries and then dies in childbirth, and a War takes place in which Andrew, another son, is killed.

All these events are diminished by the universal context of time and change against which Woolf places them. The final part of the novel returns to the human scale. About ten years later, the surviving characters are back at the house and Mrs. Ramsay, though dead, continues to be the central figure, motivating much of what occurs. Mr. Ramsay now takes the still-angry James to the lighthouse, and Lily Briscoe, inspired by her memory of Mrs. Ramsay, is at last able to complete the painting she began years before.

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Away

Urquhart, Jane

Last Updated: Aug-17-1998
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

A strange Irish girl is "away" ever since she lay beside a drowned man. A teacher marries her, providing stability if not sanity, but the 1840s famines begin and the couple flee Ireland with their child Liam. They establish a homestead in a remote part of Ontario where a baby girl, Eileen, is born.

Not long after, the mother disappears and is not seen again for years until she is brought home dead. The son learns that she had been living by a lake immersed in her fantasies of the long dead lover. Eventually, Liam is left to care for his sister alone; they travel to a small port town where he realizes that Eileen has become an attractive young woman with desires of her own. She too goes "away" following a lover, but returns to Liam and his wife to live out her long and lonely life.

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Annotated by:
Wear, Delese

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

A novel written in the first-person to what appears to be a trusted friend, Spending is the story of Monica Szabo, a painter who has struggled her entire career to be "moderately successful." Divorced and the mother of young adult daughters, Monica teaches to supplement the income from her paintings.

One evening after a gallery talk a man introduces himself as a collector of her paintings and offers himself to be her muse. This offer includes everything so many successful male artists have had that enabled them to produce "great" art: protected time to create, money, a room of their own. His offer also includes sex.

The novel, then, is the unfolding relationship between Monica and the man she ironically calls only "B," a relationship that includes her huge ambivalence about the tensions of their arrangement that often collide at the intersection of his money and the implicitly obligatory (yet quite pleasurable) sex. By the end of the story Monica is rich and famous through the sale of her series of Christs who were not dead (as portrayed on Renaissance canvases) but merely postorgasmic. B, in the meantime, loses his fortune and the roles are reversed.

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Stone Butch Blues

Feinberg, Leslie

Last Updated: Jul-03-1998
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

This novel tells the story of Jess Goldberg, a transgendered "butch" growing up in Buffalo, New York. Jess first learns to admit and negotiate her attraction to women and her butch identity. Immediately, she is faced with violence. The police raid the lesbian bars, arrest any woman wearing fewer than three articles of women’s clothing and routinely beat, strip, or rape them. Jess and her friends also face the violence of bashers who attack without cause on dark or well-lighted streets.

Nevertheless, Jess refuses to compromise. From a doctor, she gets a prescription for testosterone, goes to a gym and transforms herself into a bearded, muscular man. Having saved two thousand dollars, she has a mastectomy done. The doctor falsifies a biopsy, performs the surgery and makes her leave. By the end of the novel, Jess is secure in her identity and determines to fight to make the world safe for others like her.

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