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The Rest of Life: Three Novellas

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  146 ratings  ·  22 reviews
Mary Gordon's luminous new fiction introduces three women, each of whom tells the story of the lover who altered her life. In Immaculate Man, a social worker in her forties whose specialty is battered women becomes the lover of a priest. He has never desired a woman until, at forty-three, he desires her, makes love to her, uses his holy hands to touch her. She teaches Fath ...more
Paperback, 257 pages
Published August 1st 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1993)
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I loved reading Mary Gordon's novel Spending: A Novel last year, and was eager to find more of her writing. A good friend gave me this book (since I had recommended Spending to her) and the three novellas are definitely examples of Gordon's rhythmic prose and three-dimensional women.

The short stories were sometimes difficult to read because they vascillated between first person and third person or the descriptions of actions were so subtle that I didn't realize what was happening until later. I
I read this after having read The Liar's Wife. The four novellas in that collection completely blew me away. These three novellas here had less of an impact on me. These three are all in some way about a woman's relationship with a man who is in the process of leaving, or who has already abandoned her, and whom she cannot for one reason or another relinquish.

The stories chart the progress of each protagonist's questions: why am I having an affair with a priest? How long will it last? It is so te
The three novellas are very well written and ring true, but boy, they were rather serious! I liked the three protagonists, altho at some point I wanted to shake each of them and say, "Look on the bright side and stop obsessing about the past/what you think will happen in the future!" That said, I'm glad I read this as it offered a portrait of three very different lives. I appreciate the frank depictions of romantic relationships, desire and sex from these women's points of view.
A strange and wonderful book, haunting; three novellas, each between 70 and 90 pages, unconnected except by the fact of painful love in each of the protagonists’ lives.

Wanted to study the novella, how it unfolds. The writing is repetitive in a seemingly unedited way, but really I think it’s highly edited and crafted to give a sense of disbelief, as in the final novella, the woman, Paola, continually asking, “What does it mean that I lived and he (her boyfriend at 15) didn’t? What does it mean to
Chris Blocker
The Rest of Life is comprised of three novellas. They may as well be one. There is such a strong similarity in these stories of a woman, the lover she changed and the love that changed her. Which would be okay... if the stories were interesting. These were not.

What makes Mary Gordon's three novellas particularly ineffectual was the overall lack of story. Yeah, that's that one element, you know, the one which some writers feel is vital, while others think it can be completely discarded. Gordon is
What I liked:
- Fantastic writing
- Some beautifully expressed thoughts
- Interesting and original scenarios
- Honest, raw, un-sanitized (I miss writing like this)

What I didn't like:
- All three novellas had moments of seeming to drag on
- I prefer a more succinct style

This book could be rounded up to a four, but when you find yourself wondering when something is going to end, it needs to be rounded down.

Three stories, three women, three men who made a difference, good or bad, in their lives... That's probably the best explanation for this book. I would probably modify it a bit; something like: Three women, their relations to their homes, and the repetitive, constant, obsessive thought world they narrate with slow diligence. The repetitive nature of the narrators stories really make you feel like you are in their head, seeing the world with their own eyes. The feeling that other people circle ar ...more
I guess I"m not the target audience for this one. It's beautifully written (although I take issue with the characters using vulgar terms when everywhere else int he story they speak lyrically-it's jarring, and I'm by no means a prude-it just didn't work), but I wasn't engaged and couldn't wait to move on form this one.
Three novellas, three women, each tells a story of a lover who altered her life - a priest, a war correspondent, and a tortured teenager who committed suicide. Makes one think of relationships, but not really an upbeat book.
Jul 08, 2014 Leona marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at!
Hazel McHaffie
In three novellas, Mary Gordon presents three women, each of whom tells her own story of a lover who altered her life - a priest, a war correspondent, and a tortured teenager who committed suicide. I bought it because the second novella brings in Alzheimer's, but I'm genetically incapable of not finishing a book I start, so I read all three. It's not really to my personal taste in writing but enjoyable enough, and it made me think about relationships and the effect of the past on the present.
Not the type of book you read voraciously -- it takes its time and you take your time. Not long on plot, but filled with arresting passages that urge you to dog ear the page so you can come back again easily. Gordon's protagonists are not the sort to see life through a lens of joy, though sometimes there is hard won gratitide. This makes for dark reading in a way that makes you question whether there is truth and how much in the way these characters see life.
3* Three very different, odd novellas. I don't usually read these type of books. A freebie from Pamala/BookTalk. My favorite was the last one THE REST OF LIFE. Although each has an interesting point to make about a particular "man in their life" who made a difference. The first one was too confusing for me and took too long to read.

Not a keeper and will pass on.
man, this fucking sucked. also, i was at a reading she did, and every time somebody asked a question she thought might not be in wild praise of her work, she got so defensive, i was shocked.

apparent in this book is gordon's intense dislike of women.
Jean Kelly
Stories that you want to read from beginning to end in one sitting. My favorite of the 3 was Immaculate Man, a bit improbable perhaps but a moving story of an affair with a priest. She makes both characters come alive.
Disappointing all around-none of the 3 novellas really resonated and none of the characters had enough personality for me to care about them one way or another.
Allison Shell
Apr 11, 2009 Allison Shell marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-revisit
My favorite book, Spending, is by Mary Gordon, so I picked up this new one.
Nov 07, 2007 Peg rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: females
Three novellas by Mary Gordon, not as good as her full length books
Powerful writing. Not light reading, but beautiful.
another favorite
Jéssica Scheer
Jéssica Scheer marked it as to-read
Aug 15, 2015
Jiuliana Bella Martinez
Jiuliana Bella Martinez marked it as to-read
Jul 31, 2015
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Jul 19, 2015
Mahreen Khan
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Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from
More about Mary Gordon...
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