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Light Years


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About the Author

Maggie Gee's bestselling novel The White Family (Saqi) was shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction. She was chosen as one of Granta's best new writers in 1983. Her works include Light Years (Saqi), The Burning Book, Grace, Lost Children and The Ice People. She has a doctorate in the twentieth-century novel, and is a Fellow and Council Member of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.


This fourth novel by English writer Maggie Gee is unlikely to make her a household name in America. It is slight in everything but length. As one traces, a week per chapter, the predictable events in the year that Harold and Lot tie spend apart, it is hard to gain sympa thy for, or interest in, either of them. Lottie, the Alexis Colby of Camden, is inordinately rich, selfish, and lacking in social awareness. Somnambulist Har old, who walks out of the marriage when she gives him a rare monkey, re turns to her a year later at the orangu tang enclosure at London zoo for equal ly spurious and unconvincing reasons. The book's shortcomings in plot and character are compounded by the cli ched style, rife with purple passages. Diana Vincent-Daviss, NYU Law Lib.

'This is so fine a novel, so completely a planned and crafted one.' TLS 'Sublimely funny and infinitely subtle, Light Years is pure delight.' Daily Telegraph 'In the tradition of the best romantic comedy.' The Observer 'Energetic and beguiling.' Sunday Telegraph

Gee (The Burning Book charts movingly the year-long estrangement between Lottie and Harold Segall, an English couple whose marriage has degenerated into a series of venomous quarrels. The compatibility once shared by this dissimilar pair has been eroded mainly by Lottie, a wealthy narcissist whose histrionics infuriate her husband. Exasperated, mild-mannered Harold impetuously deserts her and moves into an isolated apartment building. Almost immediately, his rancor is replaced by excruciating loneliness which only Lottie's presence could remedy. She simultaneously pines for Harold, yet vanity prevents her from initiating a reconciliation. Instead, Lottie relies upon her bewildered teenage son, and she indulges in a meaningless affair while Harold unsuccessfully courts a charming ingenue. Additional traumatic events intensify the Segalls' misery, finally compelling them to choose between a reunion or a divorce. Gee sensitively evokes the resilience of love amidst turmoil, and she effectively demonstrates the relative insignificance of our emotional crises by prefacing some chapters with descriptions of the universe's vastness. March 5

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