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The World Below
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For fans of Anita Shreve, Anne Tyler and Joanna Trollope - Miller is master of domestic drama, writing serious, sophisticated page-turners with complex moral dimensions

About the Author

Sue Miller is the author of the books While I Was Gone, The Good Mother, Family Pictures, For Love, Inventing The Abbots, The World Below, The Story of My Father and Lost in the Forest. She lives in Boston.

Reviews

When Catherine Hubbard goes to live in her grandmother Georgia's house, she discovers secrets about Georgia's past that affect her now. The 20-city author tour and 200,000-copy first printing speak volumes. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

'Sue Miller brings unusual skill in the exploration of women's hopes and regrets' Sunday Telegraph 'A beautiful, wistful meditation on the concept of home' Elle 'Miller writes with tremendous subtlety and perception' Daily Mail 'Miller skilfully weaves the story of Georgia's illicit youthful affair into Catherine's memories of her own past and contemplation of the future. Masterful storytelling' Good Housekeeping

Miller (While I Was Gone) has a remarkable talent for paying scrupulous attention to the details of domestic life and nuances of personal relationships and then, with such seeming ease, relating them both truthfully and lovingly. Here she also shows the timelessness of the courses that human lives can take and the events that shape them. At 52, twice-divorced Cath Hubbard takes a sabbatical from her San Francisco teaching job to take possession of her grandparents' home. Contemplating starting a new life there in small-town Vermont, she uncovers truths about her beloved grandmother, Georgia Rice, on whom much of the story centers. Confined to a tuberculosis sanatorium before she was 20, Georgia found a different world with rules of its own where people behaved "scandalously," and her life was irrevocably changed. Cath finds parallels between her life and that of her Gran and insight into her grandparents' marriage that sheds light on her own failed ones, as events take the path of her own life out of her hands. A beautifully crafted and supremely satisfying work of fiction. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/01.] Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

While Miller's gorgeous new novel, her sixth, works graceful variations of her perennial theme - our intimate betrayals - it also explores new terrain for the author: just what we can know of the past and of its influence on us. At the heart of Miller's story are two women, 52-year-old Catherine Hubbard and Catherine's now-deceased grandmother, Georgia Rice Holbrooke. At first blush, Catherine and Georgia couldn't seem more different. Catherine is a twice-divorced San Francisco schoolteacher, while her grandmother was a faithful country doctor's wife. But as the novel progresses, parallels emerge - the early deaths of their mothers, for instance - and their lives come to seem more deeply entwined. As the novel opens, Catherine and her brother have just inherited Georgia's old house in Vermont, and it is up to Catherine to figure out what to do with it. Still shell-shocked from her second divorce, Catherine decides to give life in Vermont a try, and, once settled, she discovers diaries and account books her grandmother kept, books that allow Catherine to reconstruct her grandmother's life. What Catherine discovers is a world she never imagined beneath the placid surface of Georgia's life. While she knew that Georgia was sent to a sanatorium for tuberculosis, she did not know the "san" changed Georgia's life. As Catherine sorts through her grandmother's life, she also sorts through her own: her mother's death, her two marriages, her boyfriends and her children. As readers have come to expect, Miller limns contemporary life in deft, sure strokes, with an unerring ear for the way parents and children talk; no one can parse a modern marriage as well as she can. But in this novel Miller's special gift to readers is her rendering of Georgia's life, particularly the two love stories that mark it. Miller portrays the feverish period in the san - the intrigues, the romances, the very romance of taking a cure - vividly and sensuously. (Surely her research was rigorous.) Likewise, Miller captures the early, fragile years of Georgia's marriage with great poignancy, ever dividing our sympathies between Georgia and her husband. In the Holbrookes, Miller has created a marriage that survives despite its fault lines, a marriage that seems both modern and old-fashioned: recognizably fraught, yet enduring, the sort of marriage readers hunger to read about. Perhaps that's why this novel is so satisfying. Random House audio (ISBN 0-375-41993-4). (Oct.) Forecast: Miller's many, many (mostly female) fans will relish this dip into the past, released in a 200,000-copy first printing. A 20-city author tour, advertising on Oprah and word-of-mouth should attract plenty of new readers, too.

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