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Magnificence (Trilogy #3)

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  670 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet is "one of the most acclaimed novelists of her generation" (Scott Timberg, Los Angeles Times). Salon praised her for writing that is "always flawlessly beautiful, reaching for an experience that precedes language itself." The Village Voice added, "If Kurt Vonnegut were still alive, he would be extremely jealous."
This stunning new novel
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 5th 2012 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Oct 17, 2012 Roxane rated it it was amazing
This is a book I love because of its flaws. So many things go wrong here––the last 1/3 is rushed, the prose is full of excess and indulgence, the plot is thin and incomplete, there are overly convenient solutions to the problems the protagonist encounters, but it doesn't matter. A great writer can get away with these things. I really loved these flaws. I don't think women writers are allowed to be indulgent nearly enough. The writing is so lush and the protagonist, Susan is so human, so honest, ...more
Justin Evans
Feb 01, 2015 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It's taken me a long time, but I think I've finally worked out what makes Millet's trilogy so odd, even though the books are perfectly readable and lack the obvious oddness of her other recent work (e.g., Mermaids in Paradise or Oh Pure and Radiant Heart!) The novels in the 'Dead' trilogy present themselves as almost perfectly generic modern fiction--told from one close third person point of view, with little plot, and a lot of the 'realistic' psychological detail that people like James Woods re ...more
Feb 04, 2013 Deborah rated it it was ok
SO annoying, so self-indulgent.
Long, boring discourses (supposed to sound "off-the-cuff," but clearly arduously-researched) and on ridiculous subjects that no sane person has a genuine interest in.

The book jacket says "funny and heartbreaking." I guess that is code for melodramatic and depressing.
Jan 17, 2013 Holly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, 2013-reads
I messed this one up: reading a series out of order is something I just DON'T do. But I'd never read anything by Lydia Millet and somewhere picked up the mistaken notion that although this book was third in a trilogy it was also "stand-alone" (that reading the first two novels wasn't essential). So I downloaded an audio version and didn't read any reviews or background on the book - just blithely listened over 3 runs and a bout of insomnia in the wee hours.

I really did like Magnificence on its
Nov 11, 2012 Pam rated it it was amazing
I don't know how I missed Lydia Millet up until now, but she is just so damn smart. The narrator of this book is not familiar to me, not 100% comprehensible, and yet I was so dazzled by her sensibility, in other words, the sentences used to create her. Wow
Now I have come to the end of the trilogy: How the Dead Dream, Ghost Lights, Magnificence. I see why she calls it a trilogy (or at least the publisher calls it that.) Characters from the previous books inhabit the latter in a sequence where the time is a bit later than when the former book ended. Each book features a different character as the protagonist. Very David Mitchell.

Because I don't like to put spoilers in my reviews, I can't say much about the plot in Magnificence because I would spoi
Jan 10, 2013 rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
The thing that I love most about Lydia Millet is that she not only captures the moment where one's brain goes off the rails into crazy talk born of desperate unhappiness in a way that's familiar, she takes it perhaps even a step further than you'd expect.

There is a scene in Magnificence where its protagonist, Susan -- late to an important appointment, a serial adulterer with a now-dead husband, heiress to a dusty mansion of taxidermied animals -- starts thinking about how she "loves pornography
Holly Madison
Jan 05, 2014 Holly Madison rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviews
I did not realize that this book was a part of a series when I began reading it. I am not sure if reading the other books would have changed my review or not, as the story seems to stand alright on its own. That being said, I did not enjoy this book. It felt like more of a chore than it should have, and I found the plot both dull and somewhat pointless.

The book follows a woman named Susan Lindley after she finds out that her husband was killed. She goes on to inherit her uncle's mansion full of
Mar 01, 2013 Kelly rated it really liked it
After reading other reviews I'm curious what people found so despicable about the protagonist. She was just honestly human, the way I see it.

In any case, I thought this book was really great. Sort of a commentary about life and death, about being remembered and being forgotten, about love returned and love unrequited. In addition to the story being compelling in an undercurrent sort of way, it was sprinkled throughout with sentences that either reflected my own sentiments or were just simple and
i liked her run-up [ghost lights] to this novel better as the adventures, confusions, and ultimate death of hal, susan;s husband seemed more driving, weirder, but also more likely. in this followup, susan, who fucked her way though her 20's, 30's and 40's and eventually getting caught by her husband hal, pretty much leading to his death, makes susan reel and question her guilt. she was already feeling down as her daughter is a paraplegic due to a car accident, and is a difficult daughter most of ...more
Feb 28, 2013 martha rated it it was ok
are you out of your mind? Great set -up with a weird death in a foreign country, a bereaved (but barely) widow, and her inheritance of a house full of taxidermy. But shit, Lydia does nothing with it! We just read placards of the animal types - who cares? what we want to know is how it changes her. it doesn't change her at ALL.

how can a book with no antagonist be so highly acclaimed?
Mary Beth
Mar 23, 2013 Mary Beth rated it it was amazing
The biggest flaw I found in this book was the lack of backstory on several main characters. At times, I felt as if I had stumbled into the middle of the narrative. I realized, two-thirds through, that "Magnificence" was written as the concluding book in a three book "cycle." Having not read the first two books, I'm not sure now I would go back to read them, since this book was very conclusive. Also, honestly, I'm afraid they would not be as good.
I loved this book, although some may find it murky
Mar 26, 2013 Walt rated it it was ok
First, I did not realize that this was the third book in a trilogy. That goes a long way toward explaining the background that is missing here.
Second, another reviewer characterized it as inert. I'd agree; there is way too much of Susan's rambling internal thoughts that go nowhere. Things do happen but the author's style puts everything at a distance so it seems to just mosey along.
Third, taxidermy is not one of my favorite topics and there is much too much talk of the great-uncle's house filled
Nov 23, 2012 Alecia rated it it was ok
I previously read Ghost Lights, which I understand is part of a trilogy that Magnificence completes. I did not read the first book. I liked Ghost Lights, and in my review I mentioned wanting to read more from Lydia Millet. But this continuation of the story was not as good as the previous novel. I started off liking it, but about half-way through it, I began losing interest. When Susan Lindley inherits a large mansion with a vast collection of taxidermy, I appreciated how this could change the c ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Loren rated it did not like it
Why such a low rating? Susan the main character really irked me throughout 95% of the book. I found her a wee bit better towards page 232 and then came the ending and I disliked her once again! I would enjoy a conversation with a reader that really liked the book and found Susan Lindley likeable. There was one passage within the book that I really loved and could relate to but even that was not enough for me to recommend this book or rate it higher, :(

I won't even begin to share my thoughts and
Jill Polsby
May 29, 2013 Jill Polsby rated it liked it
I think I'm too old for inanity. She is a highly recommended author, Pulitzer prize nominee. This book was stupid. A woman who sleeps with everyone she meets including the bag checker at the market. Story of cheating on your husband. He is killed in weird convoluted part of plot, she inherits huge mansion in pasadena with gazillions of stuffed animals on the walls. She immediately takes up with the lawyer. Not even worthy of calling it a beach book. I know it was the third in a series, but what ...more
Gerri Leen
Nov 01, 2012 Gerri Leen rated it did not like it
This book was on every "Best of" list I ran across. It got great reviews. I still bought it with reservations given the synopsis. After 26 pages with this main character, all I can say is "Blech." I'm not one to totally hate an antihero, but this woman was beyond morally bankrupt. The idea of taking a ride for a whole novel with her was just too much. Ugh. Add to that the overly self aware wordsmithing that often had me rolling me eyes as it yelled "See, I was nominated for a Pulitzer once" and ...more
Apr 05, 2013 Nancy rated it it was ok
The book's beautiful cover image reflects the story; it goes round and round without substance. Large events swirl around the emotionally vacant main character, about whom there is nothing heroic or admirable. Her egotism and uncanny capacity for destructive behavior appear infinite. Magnificence projects her thin character onto a series of fantastic plot events, endlessly illustrating that she is, yes truly, that shallow.
A Wheeler
Sep 13, 2012 A Wheeler rated it it was amazing
This series of novels is amazing. I got a sneak peek at 'Magnificence' and it's the perfect literary triptych. Millet wraps the story of grief in a comfort of wit. While the characters in each book ('How the Dead Dream' and 'Ghostlights') navigate the bizarre behaviors that come from profound loss and death, the meta-narrative of humanity's abandonment of the natural world becomes more about the grief that connects us all.
Dec 26, 2012 Julianne rated it really liked it
Listened to the recorded version in the car on the way to/from holiday travel. "Susan" has a crazy family but they were a rest compared to my own. Thought the book was grand, was glad it didn't descend into a plot-driven, solution-oriented package. I loved all the animals, regardless of species.
Apr 09, 2015 Carrieg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
This is part of a trilogy! I'm excited, 'cause I loved this. Very restrained writing. In that sense, it reminded me of Olive Kitteridge although the character, place, and story were completely different. I'm surprised the ratings aren't higher.
May 09, 2013 Mary rated it did not like it
The best part of this book is the cover picture of fish. As a finalist for the Pulitzer prize, very disapointing. Apparently the Pulitzer is about as worthless as the Nobel Peace Prize today.
Ben Peek
Feb 05, 2013 Ben Peek rated it really liked it
Magnificence, Lydia Millet's final book the sequence she began with How the Dead Dream and followed with Ghost Lights is a strong book to finish on. Perhaps the strongest of the three, in fact.

The novel opens with its protagonist, Susan, heading to an airport with her daughter to met her husband, Hal, and her employer, T. She doesn't yet know the tragedy that has befallen Hal at the end of Ghost Lights, but soon will (as much as I'd like to avoid spoiling that for you, it is said on the jacket o
May 09, 2013 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books-read
I struggled with coming up with a cohesive review for this novel, as my thoughts about this one seemed scattered. Did I like the novel? Yes, but I had issues with it as well.

Magnificence begins as the novel's protagonist, Susan Lindley, and her daughter Casey head out to the airport to pick up husband/father Hal. Hal has been in Belize looking for Susan's boss, T, a real estate developer, who has gone missing. Little do either women realized but Hal is dead, the victim of a mugging turned viole
Sep 11, 2012 Jena rated it really liked it
This is the final book in a trilogy, and in many ways the best of the three. If you have not read the first two, be warned that this review contains spoilers for those books. The book opens with Susan dealing with the practicalities of widowhood (her deceased husband Hal was the central character in book 2) and dismantling her boss T's commercial real-estate empire after he turns his attention to loftier things (see book 1). While the first two books focused on two (albeit quite different) men, ...more
Marco Kaye
Nov 04, 2012 Marco Kaye rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 19, 2015 Carmine rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I saw no indications that this novel was part of a trilogy until I came back to Goodreads and browsed a couple of reviews...I tend to skip the jacket copy because often it gives away too much. On the other hand, single books in trilogies should be able to stand alone, and this one didn't. In any case, it's difficult to imagine how this book could have been a satisfying conclusion to a longer story.

I liked how the book began, with the protagonist's snarky/sad observations about men, her marriage
May 12, 2013 John rated it really liked it
Of Lydia Millet's L.A. Cycle, this is definitely the odd man out. Of the three, it's the only one where the crisis and catharsis isn't set on foreign soil. It's the only one with a female protagonist.

My impression of it is also that its language is somewhat less... elevated, may be the best way of phrasing it. The central metaphoric device is also the most blatantly obvious of the three novels.

It's a more prosaic work than its compatriots.

None of this is to suggest that this novel isn't up to Ms
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Lydia Millet is the author of the novels Sweet Lamb of Heaven , Mermaids in Paradise , Ghost Lights (a New York Times Notable Book), Magnificence (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) and other books. Her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.
More about Lydia Millet...

Other Books in the Series

Trilogy (3 books)
  • How the Dead Dream
  • Ghost Lights

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“Oh how the world reflected you in its unending streams of atoms, churning atoms out of which significance beamed--significance, but not purpose.” 2 likes
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