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The War Between the Tates

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  427 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
When a wife reaches her breaking point and her husband begins an ill-advised affair, civil war breaks out within their family

Erica Tate wouldn’t mind getting up in the morning if she enjoyed her children more. Until puberty struck, Jeffrey and Matilda were absolute darlings, but in the last year, they have become sullen, insufferable little monsters. Erica’s husband, Bria
ebook, 342 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Open Road Media (first published June 12th 1974)
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Beth Bonini
Jul 22, 2012 Beth Bonini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lurie is a wonderfully good writer in the sense that she is a precise stylist -- and also very intelligent. The omniscient third person point of view is her typical narrative positioning, and it suits her well; there is something rather God-like (all-knowing, but detached) about the way she observes and depicts the flawed mortals who are her characters.

This is one of her best-known books. Set in the fictional university town of Corinth (New England, not quite Ivy League), it depicts the breakdow
Dec 02, 2012 Elaine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Really just couldn't get on with this at this time. Had absolutely no pull to continue reading. The characters are unlikable (which isn't normally a bad thing for me) and it simply didn't seem to be going anywhere.

Wrong book wrong time for this one I feel.
Aug 11, 2008 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of humorous novels about academia, I've wanted to read this novel for a while. It was written in 1974 and the action takes place in a loosely disguised Ithica, New York in 1969 when people are attending "rap sessions" and beginning to talk about the oppression of women. Some of it, particularly the language, feels very quaint. Could there really have been a time when a Krishna Bookshop would upset people? But some of it is timeless. Conflicts in gender roles are hardly dated or quaint; ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Will rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
In the tradition of Great American Novels (i.e. failing marriages in the 'burbs), Lurie's story is a sniggering--yet fair-minded--dispatch from the front lines of a household in the throws of an adultery-spurred civil war. Although written and set in the social upheaval of the early '70s, the novel's attention to emotional and social nuance makes for a more universal account of relationship tensions, foibles, and redemption between cuckold and mistress, between parents and children, and between ...more
Jun 04, 2010 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Not the best Alison Lurie book I've ever read, but still entertaining. Although I am not sure if it's a good thing that I didn't realize I'd read this before until I got to page 281. And I am also not sure what it says about me that these are the lines that triggered my memory: "Brian hugs her back; but he cannot help noting the physical contrast, and wondering why, for the second time in his life, he has become involved with a relatively flat-chested woman. It is not as if he preferred small br ...more
Jan 08, 2012 Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite type of book. A campus novel, written in the early 1970's and set in 1969. The protagonists are a couple in their 40's watching as as a rapidly changing world comes literally to their doorstep (in the form a new subdivision being built right at the edge of their vintage farmhouse. But things get worse as the husband has an affair with a hippie student, and the war is on! This is a wonderful time capsule of that turbulent times -- anti-war protests, astrologers, an uneasy foray into a ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel jumps out of the gate like gangbusters, with crackling narrative, incisive wit, and hilarious descriptions that echo Lucky Jim or Pnin. However, the plot bogs down about two thirds the way through and, while showing signs of life towards the end, eventually sputters to a close, a la TS Eliot, not with a bang, but with a whimper. It is a shame, for Ms. Lurie's observations throughout are spot on, but that is the risk one takes when neither of the Tates are particularly likeable.
Jul 09, 2014 Flexanimous rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Although I believe there is still a great deal of inequality in the world, I am very happy to live now, and never more so than when I read books like this one. Alison Lurie describes a stultifying pre-feminist world, with a lead character who has subsumed herself completely in her children, her home and her husband. When she realises her kids no longer need or even like her, and her husband is having an affair, she is forced to confront the hollowness of her domestic fantasy.
Mary Lou
Written in 1974, this book feels a little dated now. It is however easy to forget the attitudes to and prejudices against women that existed in the 60s. I found it hard to get into the cerebral style, but once I did, was greatly in awe of the author's insight into the different thought processes of male and female regarding adultery and relationship breakdown
Beatrice Gormley
An immensely entertaining story of a marriage falling apart, set in academia during the late 1960s, when the Vietnam War was the big national issue and all the standard cultural rules seemed up for grabs. Alison Lurie manages to be wickedly truthful but still compassionate toward her characters. I thought this was one of her best books, and deserves to be a classic.
Apr 25, 2008 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women over 35
This was an engaging bit on the battle of the sexes, set at the dawn of the women's movement and taking full advantage of that era's quirks. Beautifully written, but the men were a tad one-dimensional... or perhaps that was the point. Enjoyable, preposterous fluff.
Aug 21, 2012 Sophia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Published in 1974, the story is definitely a period-piece. It's entertaining, although none of the characters is particularly likable and I didn't find it as hilarious as reviewers seemed to. It was pleasant and kept me reasonably interested.
Colette Guerin
Nov 05, 2011 Colette Guerin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at Goodwill remembering reading Alison Lurie many years ago, plus it was a first edition and I always like having those no matter the value. A good read. Much of it is very dated now but I have to say I enjoyed that part about it too.
Deb Oestreicher
Tedious and unpleasant. I could not get through it. Maybe it is dated. I liked another book of Lurie's, Foreign Affairs.
May 20, 2010 Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful funny story. A favorite!
Oct 29, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great soap opera that really took place in Ithaca. What a hoot......great read.
Read this book many years ago, seem to remember it started out amusing but got increasingly depressing and desperate.
Feb 25, 2017 Roz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting satire on life and marriage in late 60's.
Jane Juliette Sue
The book starts off with an enigmatic Jorge Luis Borges quote - right; then the reader is thrown instantly into a domestic drama: a mother, Erica, is left alone with her "rude, coarse, selfish, insolent, nasty, brutish and tall" children at breakfast. Ok, this frigid and snobby U.S. housewife doesn't like her teenage children - fair enough, but soon things get worse when Erica finds out her college professor husband has a young and pretty stupid student, Wendy. Erica burns cookies while reading ...more
Jan 06, 2008 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining and insightful, but not as good as the first two books that I read by Lurie ("Foreign Affairs" and "Truth & Consequences"), both of which were written after this one. I would describe them as "pitch perfect", but this one is a bit "off key" if you will; Lurie is clearly finding her voice in "The War..." and she hits a few false notes with her prose. It's just a bit forced and doesn't flow nearly as easily as the latter two works. That said, it's still a well-written, witty, and ...more
Babs Green
I really enjoyed this novel. The War Between The Tates is an involving and witty story about amongst other things relationships and our capacity to be self deluding. I have not read Alison Lurie before but would be really happy to read her again. If you like decent, intelligent writing slightly tongue in cheek this one's for you
Jun 10, 2012 Pamela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying satire of academia in the late 1960s. I also really enjoyed the character of Wendy and what she represents in the conflict between the sexes. The scenes between Zed, the Zen bookshop owner, and Erica Tate are also incredibly humorous.
A bit dated but still a good read...primordial chick-lit from the early '70s, set in the late '60s. I can personally relate to much of what goes on in this book. Also reminiscent of The Women's Room, but not as deep.
Nov 09, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever writing and very droll..I loved it.
May 13, 2011 Linda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was wild about this story of a married professor who falls for one of his students. It was later made into a film.
Oct 30, 2011 Karolinaantonia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious. Plus it's fun to read about a university that is so obviously Cornell. The vet school professor is particularly funny.
May 20, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sw
Interesting to read as a period piece on second-wave feminism. For straight entertainment value, I prefer Lurie's _Foreign Affairs_.
Mar 08, 2009 Alan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
1989 notebook: beautifully written but rather depressing. Truthful. Kids who are monsters, a husband having an affair. Compulsive, though, hard to put down.
Jul 27, 2011 Véronique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un succulent miroir de nos névroses familiales
May 24, 2015 Marie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I found the subject matter disagreeable and the style stilted. I just couldn't get into it and found it quite unpleasant overall, so I gave up... I was surprised since I'd enjoyed "Foreign Affairs".
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Alison Lurie (b. 1926) is a Pulitzer Prize–winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Born in Chicago and raised in White Plains, New York, she joined the English department at Cornell University in 1970, where she taught courses on children’s literature, among others. Her first novel, Love and Friendship (1962), is a story of romance and deception among the faculty of a snowbound New England colle ...more
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“Brian knows the affair is wrong. He's known from the moment Wendy first undressed in his office. But with her hot, wet tongue in his ear, and her taut, pink nipples straining against his starched white shirt, and with Mick Jagger's strident voice squawking about satisfaction on the tiny transistor radio, Brian's body refuses to obey.

Instead of shoving Wendy out the door, he shoves her onto the unmade bed.”
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