White Rabbit

Phillips, Kate

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Wear, Delese
  • Date of entry: Jan-29-1997


A very sad, discerning, funny novel about the final day in the life of smart, impatient, fiercely independent, cantankerous, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, imaginative, eighty-eight year old Ruth Caster Hubble. Now living a life full of routinized quirks (sleeping in a sleeping bag on top of her bed so she won’t have to make it) with her second husband Henry--"King of the Boobs," Ruth leads readers through the dailiness of a life shaped by memory, family connections, and a failing body.


So often stories of aging fall into the either-or of sickness/frailty/nursing home bound or the jolly golden ager. Phillips’s novel portrays a woman who occupies multiple locations: she is incredibly quick-witted with a razor sharp memory that gives her pleasure and pain almost simultaneously given the particular memory; she is healthy enough to take reasonably vigorous walks daily ("Destination Zigzag"--"moving from point to point changing course every fifty yards or so, stopping to catch her breath at each Destination along the way . . . a simple exercise walk became a daring little voyage"), but she wets herself before she can get back; she still is able to have people in for dinner but must resort to frozen dinners.

White Rabbit--which is actually the name of a phone game her family had played for years on the first day of every month--is a wonderfully imaginative novel about an imaginative woman. It is a story that forces readers to confront the indignities of aging and aging bodies with both humor and sympathy.


This is the author’s first published novel.


Houghton Mifflin

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