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Laura Rider's Masterpiece

2.62  ·  Rating Details ·  1,227 Ratings  ·  313 Reviews
Laura and Charlie Rider have been married for twelve years. They share their nursery business in rural Wisconsin, their love for their animals, and their zeal for storytelling. Although Charlie's enthusiasm in the bedroom has worn Laura out, although she no longer sleeps with him, they are happy enough going along in their routine.

Jenna Faroli is the host of a popular rad
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 9th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing (first published February 25th 2009)
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Feb 17, 2009 Trin rated it it was ok
A fairly dull little sex comedy, in which wannabe romance novelist Laura Rider sorta kinda engineers an affair between her husband, Charlie, and Jenna Faroli, a local radio personality. Despite the possibility of some Cyrano-like shenanigans (Laura writes or co-writes many of Charlie's amorous emails to Jenna), the relationships between all three parties (um, and Jenna's husband, I suppose) remain pretty tame. Barely a thing is made of Laura's obvious attraction--whether sexual or just ...more
Jan 31, 2009 Jackie rated it really liked it
Jane Hamilton, author of the emotionally wrenching "A Map of the World" and "The Book of Ruth", is trying her hand at humor this spring in this tale of two marriages and four profoundly disassociated people.

Laura and Charlie Rider are childless and the proprietors of a grand and successful plant nursery where Laura does the designs and Charlie does the hard work (including the quiet work of fixing Laura's designs). Laura is bold, bright, ambitious, completely self
centered and just as completely
Apr 18, 2009 Lisa rated it did not like it
I could not get into this book even after a couple of chapters. I actually returned it to the bookstore.
Sep 10, 2009 Jody rated it did not like it
Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is the story of Laura, an aspiring writer, her affable and henpecked husband, Charlie, and the object of their affection, local radio personality Janna Faroli. The book is described as a “full-blown comedy”, but the humor is of the driest, darkest variety. The story reads like a doomed love affair, in that we meet the three main characters and see them as shining with potential, but as they are revealed in their entirety, we see that they are in fact boring, tawdry, ...more
Elevate Difference
Aug 11, 2009 Elevate Difference rated it liked it
Jane Hamilton's latest novel has a delightful premise. Laura and Charlie Rider own a Midwestern landscape business, for which Laura writes a newsletter. Charlie is a fantastic lover, a man whose equal doses of femininity and masculinity make his understanding of women profound. Laura suffers from “sexual fatigue,” and after twelve years of marriage, she has decided to stop sleeping with Charlie.

Jenna Faroli, the host of Milwaukee Public Radio's Jenna Faroli Show, has recently moved to Laura and
Jan 04, 2009 Robin rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who like quirky characters
Recommended to Robin by: ARC via Shelf Awareness
Shelves: fiction, 2009-list
What can I say? I was excited to read the ARC of Jane Hamilton's newest book because I've read her fiction before and liked it but nowadays I'm just not as intrigued by novels about infidelity. I'm just now and that's the whole premise of this book and I'm not spoiling it because it says so on the back. The characters were fully formed although I had trouble keeping Jenna, the radio personality, separate in my mind from Laura, the would-be author of a romance novel, who essentially encourages ...more
May 01, 2009 Tracey rated it did not like it
Adult fiction. A woman obsessed is a dangerous thing, apparently. I'm not sure what to think about this book, actually--it's pretty strange.
Dec 09, 2009 Hambread rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 30, 2009 Marie rated it liked it

"Married for 12 years, Laura and Charlie Rider have come to share almost everything: their nursery business, their love for their animals, and, most especially, their zeal for storytelling. And though they no longer share a bed, they are happy enough continuing along in their pleasant, platonic routine. Then Charlie begins an email exchange in earnest with Jenna Faroli, the host of a popular radio show, and, according to Laura, "the single most famous person in the town." Seeing her op
Jun 29, 2009 Lori rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009june
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 01, 2010 Joseph rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I feel guilty about being too critical, but the word "masterpiece" has no place being used anywhere in reference to this book. Perhaps it is intended to come off as trashy, as some sort of commentary on the romance novel Laura hopes to write, but that intention is swallowed up beyond any hope of ironic redemption.

Foremost among the book's sins is that Hamilton seems to have no idea how people talk. Consider the first conversation in the book, between Laura and Jenna, which is little more than a
Jul 31, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
I give this book 4 stars because it was well-written with a good dose of humor and some real depth. Not really 5 stars because although I liked the characters they never became "real" to me, in the sense that I forgot they were characters in a novel.

On the surface, the story is about a woman who, wanting to pursue her dream of being a writer, creates a situation where her husband will have an affair with another woman. She wants to use the affair and its progress as source material for her roman
Oct 06, 2009 Sandy rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it
Jane Hamilton's satirical take on romance is a curiously, fun examination of relationships, sex, writing, and even the cult of personality. When Laura Rider manipulates her husband Charlie, and national talk show host Jenna Faroli into a relationship so she can study the progression for the romance novel she wants to write, she has no idea what she's getting into. This book is a delightful paradox, romance and literary examination rolled into one.
May 04, 2009 Kit rated it did not like it
Hmmm. I'm having trouble getting past the first chapter. This is like a bad stereotype of a small midwestern town and its people -- doesn't ring true to me at all. One cheap shot after another.

[LATER:] OK, I officially give up. Hamilton's depiction of Laura Rider is cliched, as is her depiction of Jenna Whoever, but at least the Jenna Whoever character seems less of a mean cliche. You can see Hamilton working in this, and it ain't pretty. Maybe I should have kept going, but.... I didn't.
Aug 22, 2010 Joni rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
I was very disappointed in this book. The characters were never appealing to me. The story was not interesting until the very end of Disk 4 out of 5. Then the story tanked...I have no idea what Jane was thinking when she wrote this book. There just seemed to be something major missing from it...the ending was kind of just there...I did not even think the book had ended!! What a shame.
Marie Connor
Interesting-somewhat odd book, not my favorite but still think this is a great writer. My favorite book she wrote is The Book of Ruth. Thinking of rereading this soon.
Judy Egger
Oct 16, 2016 Judy Egger rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not recommended

The Excellent Lombard's by the same author was an excellent book. This one sucked. The character of Laura was manipulative and lacked depth
Ron Charles
Dec 11, 2013 Ron Charles rated it liked it
"Laura Rider's Masterpiece" -- designed to look like a little 1950s romance novel -- is Jane Hamilton's foray into comedy, a surprising departure from her well-known "A Map of the World" and "The Book of Ruth." In this case, adultery isn't revealed to the unsuspecting wife but rather engineered by her in a misguided attempt to practice her writing skills.

While Laura Rider dreams of being a novelist, she runs a successful nursery with her husband in Wisconsin. Because they have no children and Ch
Feb 14, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it
The first few pages of Jane Hamilton’s new novel elicit chuckles, snorts and a couple of laughs loud enough to require explanation to others in the vicinity.
Yes, it’s a sex comedy from the same Jane Hamilton known for her weighty, complex stories of families and relationships, such as “The Book of Ruth,” “A Map of the World” and “When Madeline Was Young.”
But while “Laura Rider’s Masterpiece” is a departure in terms of tone — quick, breezy, funny — from Hamilton’s previous work, it touches on the
Jun 12, 2010 Michelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: forreview
I read this book fairly quickly, though skimmed several parts that were particularly dull and dry, like when you were in Jenna's husband intellectual mind. I could see why Jenna was bored with her husband. It bored me just reading that part. The thing that disturbed me was the set-up of the whole affair in the first place. It might have been funny if it wasn't so sad. I understand the author was writing about a woman, Laura, who was trying to understand the universal woman and what made her ...more
Dec 01, 2009 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
I enjoyed this light book but felt it had some problems. I've read other Jane Hamilton novels and her other books are not comedies, although she includes humor on occasion. Her characters include a mentally disabled woman who dreams of love and a woman who is jailed after her friend's daughter dies while in her care. Hamilton is a genius with these situations and her novels are powerful and deft--I admire her writing and I can see why she would want to take on a lighter topic. In this book, ...more
Mar 02, 2009 Eris rated it really liked it
I was wondering how to choose what to try next in my overwhelming stack of books. Many looked good, many were probably well written - but did any of them have any SURPRISES left in them? So often I read work that may be wonderfully composed but still lacks an original insight or spark of an unseen story.

Luckily for me I picked up "Laura Rider's Masterpiece" by Jane Hamilton. Though never a fan of romance, this is what I would call the true face of romance blown up to highlight both its most beau

Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Mar 28, 2009 Kathy (Bermudaonion) rated it really liked it
Laura and Charlie Rider seem to have a happy, if somewhat bland, marriage. They own and operate the beautiful Prairie Wind Farm nursery in a small town in Wisconsin. Laura is the brains behind the nursery and Charlie is the muscle. Laura admires Jenny Faroli, the married host of a popular radio talk show who lives in the same small town. Laura also dreams of writing a romance novel.

When Charlie and Jenny meet in a chance encounter one evening, Laura encourages Charlie to contact Jenny, and in th
Nov 27, 2012 Philtrum rated it did not like it
I read this as it was highly recommended on the book-a-day calendar on my desk (which has suggested several good books over the last couple of years).

This was well outside my usual reading range.

Not sure how to describe it - literary romance?

Technically it was well written but the story was just too unbelievable for me.

Young middle-aged gardening business owner (Laura Rider) married to hunk decides (a) to never have sex again with said hunk and (b) to organise the friendship (and later sexual re
Aug 04, 2011 Anna added it
Once in a while I pick up a piece of contemporary literary fiction, just to keep my hand in for the purposes of reader's advisory, or to see what's out there and confirm that I'd rather be reading Fantasy & Science Fiction. Almost inevitably, as was the case with Jane Hamilton's Laura Rider's Masterpiece, I finish the book with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction. Laura Rider has been married to Charlie for twelve years, and is tired of his sexual attentions. She also aspires to writing a ...more
Mar 31, 2009 Nely rated it really liked it
Laura Rider lives with her husband, Charlie, in Hartley, Wis., where they own and run the Prairie Wind Farm. After 12 years of marriage, Laura decides to stop sleeping with Charlie, and although Charlie’s best talent is lovemaking, she has decided that she’s done with the whole "sex" thing. Upon meeting local public radio host Jenna Faroli, Laura decides that the time has come to fulfill her fantasy and write a romance novel. It just so happens that fate was on her side and there was a chance ...more
Mar 22, 2011 amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My momentum to read this has slowed somewhat.

After reading some of the reviews, I think that some readers are taking the book too seriously. It is meant to be a light take on adultery (isn't that an odd way of putting it) which may be the problem. Clearly Hamilton is a good writer with well crafted sentences. You can tell that by the contrast between her narration and when Laura tries her hand at composing the emails- also when Charlie composes too. Throughout the book, but especially when Jenn
Carol Moore
Mar 11, 2012 Carol Moore rated it liked it
I thought it was funny. (Didn’t know the author & had no expectations. I thought of the book as something in the vein of Christopher Moore. I didn’t realize until just now, as I was checking the reviews, that people were let down.)

“Laura got the idea to write a romance novel starring an unspecified "Every Woman" when she heard a literary historian interviewed on a public radio program starring her idol, Jenna Faroli, who has recently moved with her husband to Laura and Charlie's small town.
Oct 07, 2011 Jill rated it it was ok
This is really a one-and-a-half star kind of book, but I'm bumping it up to two because I was able to finish it. Yup, that's where I draw my line. And that should tell you something about what I really think of Laura Rider's Masterpiece.

First off, neither this book nor Laura Rider's is anything close to a masterpiece. Of course, the title was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but if you're going to attach that kind of name to your book, you better be ready for the inevitable puns that follow.

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Jane Hamilton is the author most recently of The Excellent Lombards and The Book of Ruth, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction, as well as A Map of the World, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and named one of the top ten books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, the Miami Herald, and People. Both The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World have been select ...more
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