Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Veronica” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.36  ·  Rating Details ·  4,054 Ratings  ·  543 Reviews
The extraordinary new novel from the acclaimed author of Bad Behavior and Two Girls, Fat and Thin, Veronica is about flesh and spirit, vanity, mortality, and mortal affection. Set mostly in Paris and Manhattan in the desperately glittering 1980s, it has the timeless depth and moral power of a fairy tale.

As a teenager on the streets of San Francisco, Alison is discovered by
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 11th 2005 by Pantheon
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 12, 2008 Kalisa rated it did not like it
Veronica by Mary Gaitskill came very highly recommended. It was on a lot of "best of" lists and I'd actually had it on my list of "To Read" for a while. This was a book that I couldn't finish and that is a real dilemma for me. When I'm not enjoying a book at all, I never know whether to quit or keep going. If I don't like it early on, I feel like I owe it to at least give it a chance, and keep reading. Eventually I'm half-way through and even if I still don't like it, I'm like, "Well, I'm half-w ...more
Krok Zero
Jul 13, 2010 Krok Zero rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2010
I bet I'd be really inspired by this novel if I were a fiction writer. Mary Gaitskill sees the world through no eyes but her own, and she communicates that worldview with an unyielding series of remarkably inventive metaphors and physical descriptions, interspersed with prose-poem reveries in which Gaitskill abandons standard literary psychology to focus entirely on texture. Heady stuff, and my inner creative-writing student is all fired up by it, galvanized. But alas, I am not a writer of ficti ...more
Caitlin Constantine
Apr 25, 2009 Caitlin Constantine rated it liked it
As far as the story itself, I thought it was lackluster and a bit pretentious. I appreciated what Gaitskill was trying to do, that she was trying to explore notions of superficiality and depth when it comes to personal interactions. I also liked that she gave her two main characters, these women who are by turns pitiful and infuriatingly self-destructive, a sense of dignity even though they were behaving in ways I found really sad and upsetting. But for the most part, I thought she was striving ...more
May 29, 2007 Holly rated it really liked it
In Veronica, Alison, an aging model, whose body is wracked with pain and disease, looks back on her life in snapshots, as if she is flipping through a portfolio of memories. In her prime, Alison was beautiful and flawed. She related to the world with vanity, but also with a vague sadness and misunderstanding. She tells her stories as if her life is over in her 40s, which I guess for Alison, it is. The most telling of the flashbacks involve the title character, Veronica. Alison dislikes her and b ...more
Feb 16, 2012 Jack rated it it was ok
I mean, I fight my middle age at every turn. But some days you're just cranky about things - younger writers, younger people. Younger subjects. Mary Gaitskill can bring out the crank in anyone. Or maybe just anyone my age. She is a terrific writer, and an adept wordsmith. And I sorta hated this book, and knew I should like it more.

Our heroine, Alison, is a terminally jaded young woman - her mother left her father, she's been a model and lived in Europe and failed at everything and seen it all.
Apr 27, 2011 Cornelia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
I read Veronica over the course of roughly 1.5 days (sleep, work, play also took up some time). It was addictive and mesmerizing and delirious and stunning and beautiful and expansive and breathless and depressing and hard and devastating and wonderful. Not everyone will love it and I've no trouble seeing why. Still, it really hit the spot for me.

The structure is linear but with lots of flashbacks and sometimes the transition from present to past is so smooth that you don't realize you were in t
Chelsea Cain
Jun 21, 2014 Chelsea Cain rated it it was amazing
I could read this book again and again, just to bask in the language. The writer/psychiatrist Oliver Sacks talks about a patient he had, an artist who could look at the world and see red. Not the way that you and I can. For her, red would separate from the landscape and all the other colors would drop away. She could glance at a field and instantly see a single red flower in a meadow of green. The rest of us could see that flower too, if we looked for it, if it was pointed out, but most of our b ...more
Aug 12, 2009 Maia rated it it was ok
Shelves: 80s-90s
I'm a true, dedicated, devoted fan of Mary Gaitskill--I will scout the 'Net for anything with her byline on it. Her words thrill me, her descriptions astound me, her observations leave me breathless. I've read every one of her stories several times. And even though I knew from the set-go that her first novel, Fat and Thin, isn't very good in terms of novel-writing (I actually think it fails), I still wanted to really, really like this book.

Unlike Fat and Thin (which nearly everyone agrees did no
Aug 24, 2011 Emily is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Mary Gaitskill's 2006 novel Veronica as part of my ongoing disgust project, and indeed it is a rich depository of fascinating uses of disgust. Yet I find I can't bear to write simply about the disgust in the book, without addressing its greater appeal. I consciously avoid pronouncements about the Canon, which books are Great and which merely Good, or anything of the kind—and yet, I am beset by a strong desire that Veronica be studied, written about, appreciated, revisited. It is not ...more
Peter Landau
Nov 19, 2013 Peter Landau rated it it was amazing
VERONICA is many things, but what struck me first was its rebuttal to the trite truism that we have only the moment we live in, that all else is illusionary and the present is where life is found. The past, even the future but less so, inhabit every page of this wonderful novel by Mary Gaitskill, like Al Jaffee's fold-up back cover of Mad magazine creating the full image only from parts. That's the picture, everything at once, forever churning through our consciousness. If time is the fourth dim ...more
Rebecca McNutt
This book does an excellent job at portraying the 1980's in all its bright-coloured pop music glory, but I found the humor to be really immature and at times crude, the characters to be shallow and that the plot was void of much substance.
Jun 20, 2008 Daisy rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
After I finished Two Girls, Fat and Thin, I immediately went to the library to check this one out. Like in the previous novel, the story focuses on the friendship between two women. One is a model. The other is a middle-aged woman diagnosed with AIDS in the epidemic of the 80s.

It's hard not to see how Gaitskill is trying to highlight the similarities in the female experience. The ideas of beauty, youth, ugliness and love are not only totally upended, but sometimes exposed as something not even
Tracy Shapley
Aug 28, 2010 Tracy Shapley rated it really liked it
I only read this book because Ineeded a book that started with the letter V for my alphabet challenge. The reviews on Amazon were extremely mixed, people seemed to really either love or hate this book. I can understand, as I definitely loved this book.

The story is told from the point of view of a woman in her 40s who was once very beautiful - a model in fact. She went through her teens and twenties traveling back and forth from Paris and San Francisco and had little to do with her middle class,
Alisa Ridout
Jan 20, 2013 Alisa Ridout rated it it was amazing
Poetry prose is Veronica. Mary Gaitskill doesn’t write. She transcends. Raw, real, severe, cerebral, Gaitskill’s style haunts my world long after I’m done reading it for the morning. I’m running ahead of my reading schedule, which is good. I’m exactly halfway through the 257 page novel. These last few days I have stopped moving ahead in the story to revisit noteworthy passages. Upon dissection, it became evident to me how perplexing and magnificent the poetic quality of Mary Gaitskill’s words tr ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Pamela rated it it was amazing
I found this book so powerful that I couldn't write about it right away. I've had an ambivalent relationship to other work by Gaitskill (I'd only read her stories, not her other novel). I'm fascinated by it but sometimes repelled. The people and the situations often seemed ugly to the point that I wondered if an unconscious sadism wasn't at work. Then I'd wonder if that was only my squeamishness speaking. I also sometimes had trouble picturing her characters, who can be so contradictory that the ...more
Manik Sukoco
Jan 06, 2016 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy book to describe, recount, or read. The story arch begins and ends on the same day. An older woman with a debilitating disease and injuries that will never heal is on her way to and from her job as a cleaning lady for her former agent from her high flying modeling days. Flashing back and forth in time with memories of her family, running away from home in the hippie days, high fashion modeling, and her friend Veronica, who serves as a touchstone. With all her flights of fancy, Veroni ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Bronwen rated it really liked it
Alison is an aging former model, going about her day of running errands and washing windows for a friend, observing the pain and change in her body from Hepatitis C and from a miss-set and improperly healed broken arm.

She remembers her early days as a drug-blurred 15 year old model in Paris and her return to New York. Mostly, she remembers her unlikely friendship with Veronica, a woman who loved opera, old movies, and her manipulative bisexual partner Duncan. Alison relives Veronica’s death from
Jan 04, 2009 Elaine rated it it was ok
Hmmm. I keep thinking there was a lot more in the book than I got out of it. I think Anne and I will have to chat. I did enjoy the book as it went on. I found Gaitskill's evocation of Alison's "musical" view of life early on somewhat overdone. I did think she did a fabulous job of showing how the bright & shiny gets old & cranky. And Veronica, and her relationships, was a fantastic, complex but very real individual. Sometimes I think I read too fast . . . .
Eveline Chao
Jun 02, 2015 Eveline Chao rated it it was amazing
Really interesting book narrated by an aging former model. Love the author's ideas about dynamics between men and women, what people need and take from each other, and beauty vs. ugliness and how the two are intertwined and heighten each other. Find myself still thinking a lot about the book a week later.

I've been going my whole adult life thinking I've read Mary Gaitskill before because I hear her mentioned so much, but when I started reading this I realized I hadn't, because her language is s
Maya Lang
Jan 15, 2016 Maya Lang rated it liked it
I read this novel after reading The Mare, which blew me away. I'd never read Gaitskill before and was eager to discover her earlier work, but perhaps this is an unfair way to read an author, with her best work in mind. In Veronica, I found some of the same elements that made me love The Mare. Gaitskill has a talent for examining characters' interior lives without flinching, and she makes us think about complicated power dynamics: the vicious ferocity that can exist just below the surface between ...more
Jan 27, 2013 M. rated it it was amazing
this book's full of ugly feelings brutal to recognize oneself within; also a lot of hope/beauty. not that ugly feelings need redemption via hope/beauty, just that it's an emotionally comprehensive novel. i had a hard time getting into it at first but then somehow it was everything. as a character, veronica stuns. <3
Apr 13, 2009 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
I really did not like this author or book. I struggled to read the first few chapters and found it very offensive. Others may not object to the language or content, but I did. I guess I'm finally old enough to put down a book I don't like!
Aug 25, 2015 Macey rated it did not like it
I almost didn't finish this book. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I'd spent so much time just to get half way.
I felt like I fell down the rabbit hole with Alice, only Alice was an extremely unlikable character.
Too many metaphors that made no sense to me or probably anyone but the author.
Music plays a big part. Didn't understand how. The timeline goes from paragraph to paragraph skipping 20 years or more at a time. Sometimes every other sentence.
The main character, not V
Feb 03, 2009 Janet rated it it was amazing
I never read a better description about what music meant in a period than Veronica. Found myself writing whole passages in my notebook. Deserved the National book award.
Jun 26, 2016 Annie rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016, dnf
Ugh. Read 107 pages, had to quit. The writing and storyline are not cohesive and none of the characters are engaging.
Apr 02, 2008 Nick added it
Shelves: book-club
Worst book I ever read. Depressing and pitiful.
Peter Knox
Jun 15, 2016 Peter Knox rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I approached this book wanting to like it (as Mary Gaitskill seems a fascinating person and writer), but much of the book was a struggle for me.

She writes beautifully, in a poetic-lens prose, of the narrator's childhood, modeling stint in Paris, and returning in NYC, interspersed with her unusual friendship to Veronica and how it shaped both their lives.

But the stream of conscious, shifting timelines, thoughts, and lack of driving plot took away from my reading experience. While there were often
The narrative is a personal tale of generational isolation, love and friendship, and a post-post modern existential dream. It begins with a mother’s fairy tale to a daughter and goes in what, at least for me, was an expected direction. The style is closer to essay than fiction, perhaps because the main character is the narrator; and it feels at times more like an autobiography and cultural history than a fictional tale. The author describes the generation gap with sympathy and understanding and ...more
Dec 10, 2008 Ciara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mary gaitskill fans, former models, HIV/AIDS advocates, people who partied in the 80s
let's see if i remember this properly: the titular veronica is a friend of the narrator. the narrator is a character herself. she got into modeling as a teenager & was very successful. she had a lot of jet-set excitement, dabbling in drugs & various rock stars, but beauty fades, especially when you spend the 80s on a non-stop coke binge. eventually she moves back to new jersey & takes a dead-end clerical job, where she meets veronica, a co-worker. veronica is a good ten years older t ...more
Karl Marx S.T.
Aug 18, 2012 Karl Marx S.T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to read something fast and exciting, don’t try to read this book. I’m conscious to say anything bad about the novel that might put-off a suspecting reader, because I love this book. Alison and Veronica meet in the year of the glamorous 80’s era in New York. Alison is a young model trying to escape the wreck of her blossoming career and Veronica – the eccentric, critic, fashionable middle-aged office worker- her friend. Over the next twenty-years their friendship blooms and encompasse ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Swimming Sweet Arrow
  • Poor George: A Novel
  • The Last of Her Kind
  • Honored Guest
  • Lithium for Medea
  • Nice Big American Baby
  • Home Land
  • The Rise of Life on Earth
  • In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays
  • Selected Stories
  • The King of Kings County
  • Madeleine's Ghost
  • Cassandra at the Wedding
  • The Selected Stories of Patricia Highsmith
  • Preston Falls
  • The Collected Stories
  • After Claude
  • Outerbridge Reach
Mary Gaitskill is an American author of essays, short stories and novels. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993 and 2006), and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). She married writer Peter Trachtenberg in 2001. As of 2005, she lived in New York City; Gaitskill has previously lived in Toronto, San Francisco, and Marin County, CA, as ...more
More about Mary Gaitskill...

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Of course there’s something there; unfortunately, there’s always something ‘there.’ Something you will one day be sorry you saw.” 26 likes
“What are you thinking?” She asks.
-That you are beautiful. That not everyone could see it. I almost became the kind of person who could not.”
More quotes…