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Miniatures : a novel
Norah Labiner
Adult Fiction LABINER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

"In fact, one does not really need a story so much these days. Every story hangs on the thread, hitches a ride on the hips of all the stories that have come before." With that bon mot, Labiner (Our Sometime Sister) introduces her outrageous second novel, a freewheeling, over-the-top tribute to the prose styles of such literary giants as the Bront sisters, Proust and Mary Shelley. Labiner's heroine is the precociously intelligent Fern Jacobi, who interrupts her after-college travels in Ireland to work as a housekeeper for a pair of odd writers, Owen and Brigid Lieb. Owen is the more experienced and successful of the two, but his track record with women is a bit shabby-his first wife, Franny, committed suicide despite a successful literary career of her own, and Brigid soon forms an alliance with Jacobi when she feels pressured to come up with her own inaugural writing project. The rather threadbare plot is largely an excuse for Labiner to trot out her main calling card, a brilliantly literate and wildly digressive style full of literary allusions, historical references and clever observations on pop culture. Most of these passages are thought provoking and entertaining, but Labiner does include plenty of overly cute and self-indulgent stretches, along with some conceits that simply don't work. She makes up for her shortcomings, however, by taking readers on a roller-coaster ride through the world of writers, culture, history and literature that is always intriguing and often compelling. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Talented but confused, Fern Jacobi wanders Europe to get away from her troubles with romance, family, and college. In Ireland, she accepts an offer to become housekeeper for eccentric literary legend Owen Lieb and his youthful second (or is it his third?) wife, Brigid. The Lieb house, long vacant, has an unhappy history as the site where Owen's first wife committed suicide following his desertion. Fern, who feels a strange connection to Owen, soon finds herself in alliance with Brigid, who struggles to write while in a fragile mental state. This commonplace plot is undercut by Labiner (Our Sometime Sister), who, via Fern's narrative voice, constantly coaxes readers away from the Liebs to hop on a roller-coaster ride through literary history. Every chapter offers scores of allusions and tributes to prose styles and historical events ranging from Poe, Shelley, and the Bronts to contemporary pop culture. Labiner's envelope-pushing digressions are entertaining but too often overly cute and self-indulgent; still, it's a fun trip while it lasts. For fiction readers who enjoy a bit of experimentation.-Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Fern Jacobi
Female
Age: Young adult
American
Recent college graduate.
Housekeeper

Owen Lieb
Male
Widower
His first wife committed suicide.
Writer

Brigid Lieb
Female
Married
Owen's wife.
Writer



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