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Duchess of Nothing

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  96 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The author of the critically acclaimed Schooling returns with a darkly comic novel about a mentally unpredictable woman intent on giving a young boy a proper education.

After leaving her husband and their suffocating marriage for a new lover in Rome, the narrator of Heather McGowan's Duchess of Nothing has her freedom, but is still trapped by the routine of life and haunted
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 21st 2006 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2006)
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Jul 08, 2009 Deborah rated it liked it
Well, Heather was my teacher at Brown, "teacher" - really the grad student in charge of overseeing our creative writing class. She was awesome and I adored her first novel, Schooling. have been on the look-out for a follow-up for years, so I had high expectations. Alas... this left me wishing for a bit more. Her main character is hilariously over-the-top and so crazily self-absorbed that I might have strangled her had the point of view been elsewhere. But watching the world through her eyes and ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Krista rated it did not like it
I have secretly longed for a chance to use the word "maudlin" in a sentence, and this is it. Perhaps I should have taken warning from the title. The main character, through whom the entire book is written, is at times narcissistic and overly dramatic; at times nearly endearing and insightful. I certainly saw not a little of myself in her.

I almost put the book down after a few pages, but thought it would turn around and be cathartic at the end. Not so. In fact, I was left with the impression tha
Mary  Mendoza
May 14, 2013 Mary Mendoza rated it did not like it
Shelves: tripe
Heather McGowan’s novel, the Duchess of Nothing, despite its intriguing title, was a disappointment, and once again, as with many current bestsellers, I fail to understand why it’s getting rave reviews.

McGowan eschews quote marks so the book is terribly hard to read; paragraphs run on for a full page; thoughts are screwy and fragmented, and the topic (child abandonment) is ugly.

Even Rome, a city of endless possibilities for literary exposition, gets short shrift–Duchess might as well have been
Mar 25, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is made by the prose and way in which it is uniquely told. Few characters are named, the dialogue and story rambles together and the reader is quickly dragged along much like the boy. The story itself is not so unique.

The narrator is completely unlikeable. She is seriously lacking which she knows, the reason for her selfishness, affectation and perceived martyrdom. I keep waiting for her to get better and change and learn a lesson like the ones she talks about and attempts to teach. Ev
Sep 09, 2015 Donna rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on-it
Haven't finished reading it yet, but not really liking it......... Gave up on it.
Sep 01, 2007 Aubrey rated it it was ok
It is difficult for me to describe this book. I wasn't happy with the ending, although it got me thinking further about what will happen next. I don't know if that's a good enough reason to like the book. The writing style reminded me of an English class lesson of just writing everything that comes into your head. McGowan could have even skipped out on the punctuation if she desired, since the rambling thoughts made you forget it was even there.
George Ilsley
While I didn't finish this book, I had the nerve to rate it based on the clarity of the voice and the subversive wit. However, with other competing demands on my reading time, I had to put this aside. At another time, I might have loved it more. But at this point in my life, the combination of elliptical narrative, unreliable narrator and dire shortage of paragraph breaks, proved discouraging. At times I was so hoping for a paragraph break.
Blijkbaar heeft de auteur allerlei lof gekregen over haar stilistische perfectie. Dat kan, maar voor mij zijn 3 hoofdstukken op meer dan 200 pagina's, amper alinea's (oftewel: lange blokken tekst die soms meerdere pagina's beslaan) en de afwezigheid van aanhalingstekens in dialogen toch wat taai om doorheen te komen. Verder wel een interessant boek, maar dit stijlaspect draagt voor mij weinig bij.
Jan 05, 2009 Joshua rated it liked it
McGowan certainly can turn a phrase. She delves into the minutia of psychology--the contorted ways we justify our decision making--with aplomb and thoughtfulness. I mean this as a total compliment when I say I can see the influence of Virginia Woolf in her work.
Jul 04, 2007 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the main character, but the book wasn't something I would typically read for enjoyment. it was different than any book I had read before, but not necessarily a good different, if you know what I mean.
Oct 03, 2007 Leota rated it really liked it
smart, bitingly funny and a little hard. i thought it ended a bit too quickly, but maybe that was because i enjoyed the narrator so much.
Jul 11, 2007 Georgina rated it liked it
Shelves: weepy
Strange book. I couldn't help but be bothered by the absence of chapters and all the run-on sentences.
May 05, 2008 Jeana rated it it was ok
Depressing so far. I'm not sure I'll finish it.
Katherine Ender
Jun 03, 2007 Katherine Ender rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So odd and interesting and beautifully written.
Feb 23, 2014 Ingrid rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelved
Average read, not a book to remember.
Alison Stackpole
Alison Stackpole marked it as to-read
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Jul 29, 2016
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