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The Interior Life

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  102 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
"Too active a fantasy life can be a dangerous things". For Susan this is literally true. She's perfectly happy in her role as wife and mother in suburbia. Or perhaps not perfectly happy, because the fantasy world she slips into every so often is very different from her everyday life. . . .
Mass Market Paperback, 313 pages
Published July 15th 1990 by Baen
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(showing 1-30)
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I read this because Jo Walton wrote about it glowingly in "What Made This Book So Great." It is a domestic time-slip fantasy in which Sue, a mother of three (the back of my copy got it wrong and said she has 2 kids) slips in between doing dishes and cleaning house to a fantasy world that may or may not be in her imagination alone. The deeper she gets into the fantasy world, the more she tries to reinvent herself in her own life--making changes in her PTA, sprucing up her house and marriage, lear ...more
Barbara Gordon
May 01, 2012 Barbara Gordon rated it it was amazing
A long-time favourite and 'comfort book' for me. Bored housewife Susan discovers her fantasy life is epic fantasy, and the characters and story in her head illuminate and expand her understanding of her 'real life'. Susan's tribulations with the PTA, her husband's promotion and her kids intertwine with the struggle against the Dark in a fantasy land. Blake makes both stories gripping.
What I particularly love about the story is that fantasising is presented as something that strengthens Susan, gi
Rachel Neumeier
Jul 15, 2014 Rachel Neumeier rated it really liked it

So, recently this book came up in some comment thread somewhere, sorry, don’t remember where, but in a general “I’ve never met anybody else who’s heard of this wonderful book” sort of context.

Well, I have – at least one other commenter had, too – and it is good. Published in 1990 and never re-issued, so, like almost every other good book ever written, it has thoroughly faded from sight. But it’s worth looking up, because it’s not only good, it’s unusual. It’s two stories that braid around each
Jan 25, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Jo Walton
Interior Life is another book I'd heard about from Jo Walton's What Makes This Book So Great. My best friend was also intrigued by Walton's summary of the novel & luckily came across two copies at a used bookstore! Happy day!

Blake's story begins with Sue, a housewife, struggling to bring some order to her day & daydreaming in order to keep her mind off of the housework drudgery. But as days go by, Sue's fantasy of Lady Amalia & her maidservant Marianella becomes a full-fledged world
May 04, 2015 Courtney rated it it was amazing
I borrowed this from a friend after her GoodReads review piqued my curiosity. Sometimes a book catches me so fiercely that I have to have my friends and family hide it from me so I can continue my daily life of food, work, and sleep. This book was one of those for me. I can say that it is not for everyone. It switches points of view without much warning. It has some antiquated ideas. But there is growth, there is dignity, there are real world problems, love, and humor. I'm already recommending i ...more
Lis Carey
Feb 24, 2017 Lis Carey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-sf, fiction
Susan is perfectly happy as a suburban housewife in 1980s America.Well, perhaps not perfectly happy, or she wouldn't be periodically slipping away into a fantasy life, would she? As long as she keeps it within bounds...

She's periodically sharing the minds of sometimes Lady Amalia, a noblewoman with the Sight, and sometimes her servant and general right hand, Marianella, and occasionally others. She sees what they see, learns what they learn, about the creeping Darkness that threatens the land of
D.M. Dutcher
Feb 12, 2015 D.M. Dutcher rated it did not like it
A housewife somehow creates (or is it contacts?) a fantasy world and mentally communicates back and forth with its denizens. They give her suggestions to improve her life, and she helps them too.

Unfortunately the book is pretty bad. One of the problems is that there's no transition between Sue's normal life and the fantasy world; you'll be reading one paragraph about her doing some chore, and the very next paragraph goes into what one of the other characters is doing. Not chapters, paragraphs. T
Oct 08, 2008 Ria rated it it was ok
This book has a very interesting concept. Bored housewife creates a fantasy world inside her head, and she entertains herself by following along with the adventures that the characters are having. By following their lives, learning more about them, she slowly begins to find more peace and comfort and inspiration for her own life, improving her lifestyle and loving herself more because of it.

But toward the end of the book, it all falls apart. I don't mean that the plot begins to change or that th
Oct 14, 2013 Sineala rated it it was amazing
I came across this in the local used bookstore and had the vague feeling that I'd seen it recommended somewhere before and that the author was a pseudonym for someone I liked. So I took a chance, brought the book home, googled it, and discovered that Jo Walton had recommended it and that the author was Dorothy J. Heydt. Score! (Why, yes, I did misspend a lot of my misspent youth lurking on rec.arts.sf.* and in Trek fandom.)

This book is really unusual to read -- a cozy, domestic story about a bor
Walter Underwood
Jan 09, 2011 Walter Underwood rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Berni Phillips
Dec 22, 2016 Berni Phillips rated it liked it
Blake (a.k.a. Dorothy Heydt) chose an interested format, a generic fantasy novel mixed in with a contemporary slice of family life. The fantasy is the imaginings of the suburban housewife. Alas, I found the suburban housewife's story line and characters more interesting. The fantasy was just too generic for me. Through the interaction of the two, we see the housewife becoming more efficient and competent. Unfortunately, I didn't find that much more believable than the fantasy story.
Oh you guys, this book, I can't even. I don't usually do synopses of books I've read, but in this case, I'll give it a go: once her youngest child heads off to school, a suburban housewife, Sue, discovers a medieval-esque fantasy world. Sue isn't transported into the world - it's not a time-travel or portal fantasy - and Sue isn't a frustrated novelist who suddenly is inspired to create the world now that she has leisure to do so. The world simply exists, and Sue is able to witness events there ...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Three stars more for what it tried to do than whether or not it actually succeeded. This was one of the books I would always see blurbed in the back of the Baen books I loved when I was a kid, back when (a) it was reasonable to include a mail order form in the back of books and (b) I didn't actually have money to think about ordering books via mail. ;) It always sounded interesting, but I never did anything about it. I stumbled across a copy in a used bookstore in another city back in November, ...more
Lisette Walker
Dec 28, 2015 Lisette Walker rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Sue is a bored housewife who creates a rich fantasy world. Her fantasy world begins to impact her real life, and vice-versa. She begins to step out and become someone to be reckoned with in her small community.
I can't say that this book is for everyone, but I loved it because of all the books I've read, it best captures what it is like to be entranced by a world of your own creation - and how your creation can take off in ways that you neither expect or predict.
There is no marked transition fro
May 27, 2014 Brittany rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I found this book because of Jo Walton's essay in What Makes This Book So Great, which you can also find on It's not available as a Kindle book, and I couldn't even find it new in bookstores or in the library. I bought it secondhand on Amazon. It has an embarrassing cover.

But I loved it, for all of the reasons Walton covers in her essay. It's a uniquely positive book with a challenging structure that's never discussed or resolved. It's (two) absorbing stories. It was a vastly comforting
Aug 28, 2011 Maia rated it liked it
i somehow found this book again among old, old piles: fantasy isn't my thing at all and i remember my then roommate (fanatic for fantasy novels) giving this to me and pestering me till i actually took the time to sit down and read it--i have to admit: i had to really force down my suspense of disbelief (never easy for me) and pretty often remind myself to keep it down in order to actually get on with the story. but i did and it worked, not just because the writing was solid and carried you along ...more
Dec 02, 2016 Chuk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have wanted to read this one for a while, the author was active on a usenet group I used to read. It is quite well done if definitely of its time -- set in what looks like the early 80s (possibly even late 70s) by the computer tech and the mid 50s by the social situations. The fantasy part is decent enough, well written and short -- it all fits in half (maybe slightly more than half?) a short novel, rather than seven or eight 800 page behemoths like everyone else writes these days. Even though ...more
Peter Tillman
Jan 06, 2017 Peter Tillman rated it liked it
I read this after reading many discussions of it at the old rasfw Usenet newsgroup, where the author (and Jo Walton, and I) were active participants. Oh, Blake is the pen-name for Dorothy Heydt. And this is when Jo's sig read "I kissed a kif at Kefk." Those were the days....

Here's the review you want: Jo Walton's,

I liked it, but not nearly so much as Jo did. Recycled my copy long ago.
Ry Herman
Jan 01, 2017 Ry Herman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff
What an interesting and fascinating book. The story of an ordinary housewife who totally isn't really helping to battle the forces of darkness in a fantasy realm, unless she is. It’s the unique narrative and structural style that really makes it work; taken individually, the two stories have their moments but aren’t anything I would necessarily rave about, but the way that they’re juxtaposed adds to and enhances them both.
May 11, 2015 Mahala rated it really liked it
I just have to clap. This book is not just a masterpiece of story structure and character development, but of typesetting. It could have gone wrong in so many ways. Instead it negotiated a delicate balance, kept surprising me throughout, and ended perfectly. Nicely done.
Jun 08, 2009 jen8998 rated it it was amazing
An old favorite of mine from high school. A bored housewife and mother begins telling herself a story which eventually inspires her to make very positive changes in her own life. Not much happens by way of plot but I enjoy how the main character develops and improves herself.
Sarah Holland
Jan 22, 2017 Sarah Holland rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful book, that I read based on Jo Walton's review. I had been looking for a copy, couldn't find one, and then found that the author makes an electronic, updated version of it available on her website!

Read this book.
Oct 27, 2016 Wendy rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Nov 02, 2016 Lfex rated it really liked it
I really liked it. Two seemingly banal and uninteresting stories are put together into something far bigger than the sum of its parts.
Tara Chang
Tara Chang rated it liked it
Mar 06, 2012
Sarah Worrel
Sarah Worrel rated it liked it
Nov 20, 2014
Myki rated it liked it
Jan 16, 2013
Lisa rated it it was amazing
Nov 12, 2008
Jenny Schwartzberg
Jenny Schwartzberg rated it really liked it
Apr 22, 2011
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