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The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

3.19  ·  Rating Details ·  2,435 Ratings  ·  305 Reviews

What part of our selves do we hide away in order to have a stable, prosperous life?

Pippa Lee has just such a life in place at age fifty, when her older husband, a retired publisher, decides that they should move to a retirement community outside New York City. Pippa is suddenly deprived of the stimulation and distraction that had held everything in place. She begins losing

Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 18th 2009 by Picador (first published September 1st 2002)
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Elevate Difference
What molding and stretching is required of a woman who chooses to better the quality of life of others over her own? Perhaps this type of self-sacrifice cannot be fathomed from the outside in. To be the devoted wife, the doting mother, the gracious hostess, the caring friend—where and when does she find the time to find herself?

Within in her sharply defined world, Pippa Lee is everything to everyone who matters to her—to Herb, her husband thirty years her senior and a prominent publisher; to her
Bark's Book Nonsense
When the book begins Pippa is in her fifties. She’s one of those well-to-do perfect housewife types that everyone simply adores. She’s been married to Herb, thirty years her senior, for thirty or so years and they are the parents of grown up twins. Life is idyllic with a beach house and everything. Herb is eighty(ish) when he realizes one day he’s getting old and wants to sell their real estate and move into a planned community for aging people so Pippa won’t have to care for him when his health ...more
Mar 28, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The character of Pippa Lee, in her many incarnations, is a wondrous specimen of a woman. It's far too easy to say "she overcame obstacles, blah, blah, blah..." It's much more than that when it comes to Pippa. She runs straight into the fire over and over, each time emerging more and more in touch with her own humanity. I fell in love with Pippa - her curiosity at a young age, her desperation during her young adulthood, and most of all her middle-aged incongruity. She knows how to laugh at hersel ...more
Nov 01, 2007 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
This was a really good book. Very smart literature for women, IMHO.

Pippa Lee, 50, is married to Herb, three decades her senior. He suddenly announces that he wants to move to Marigold Village, a retirement community, and Pippa finds her life changing in ways she can't control.

We are taken into Pippa's life as a child and teenager, then into young adulthood.

Then we are brought back to the present and into an unexpected conclusion.
Dec 25, 2010 Athene_who rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What can I say? After a hard term at university I picked this out for some light reading off my mother's bookshelf at home and I think it is middle aged chick lit.

It started well enough; the protagonist, Pippa Lee, is the kind of woman I suspect most women aspire to be. Kind, caring, effervescent, the friend other women trust with their secrets. However, as the book continues it becomes clear that she has worked hard to become this woman and it could have been oh so different. It transpires that
AJ LeBlanc
Oct 23, 2009 AJ LeBlanc rated it it was ok
First two-thirds of the book: A+! Last part: are you kidding me with this?

Pippa is 30 years younger than her husband. She is completely in love and content and happy with their clearly defined relationship. It works for them and she is at times caught off guard with how content she is.

From the outset it is clear that something is going to change. Herb is 80 and has decided to sell everything so that he and 50 year old Pippa can move into a retirement community. He wants to make sure she'll be pr
Jan 30, 2010 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2009 Jessie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Though it has many good lines and is readable in a breezy sort-of way, this book is highly annoying. The main character is improbably pretty and perfect, and attempts to assure the reader that she is these things but in a totally unpretentious, unselfconscious way actually make the character less, not more, likable. Also, the plot unfolds in an obvious way; even the dive into the main character's troubled childhood seems predictable, despite efforts to sex it up with family trauma, sex and drugs ...more
Sep 13, 2008 Ina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were bits about this book that I enjoyed but in the main I found it a slow read that went nowhere. I enjoyed reading about Pippa's childhood and young adulthood in the 60's and how this lively unusual womand had bcome subsumed by her husbnd and family. There were bits of her relationship with her mother that were disturbing but it did give you some insight into how she had become the woman she was and the impact it had on her own parenting of her daughter.
Sep 29, 2016 Melody rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were some interesting bits of Pippa's past, but mostly this, for me, was a beach read sort of book. No real substance. Not my cup of tea.
Not at all what I was expecting when I added this book to my wish list as a Richard and Judy recommendation I was really expecting it to be a humorous novel about a couple moving to a retirement village and the young wife causing chaos as we learnt of her past lives.. How wrong could I have been, as I actually found it disturbing and somewhat depressing, though strangely still a reasonable read.
The protagonist is Pippa Lee and one of the quotes on the back
Slawka Grabowska
Dec 26, 2010 Slawka Grabowska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2010 Swissmiss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was prepared to hate this book, based on other reviews I'd read, but I ended up rather enjoying it. It was pretentious, true, but I don't agree with what others have said that it would never have gotten published if the author hadn't been Arthur Miller's daughter. I've read a lot worse. *cough*NicholasSparks*cough*

The one jarring thing was the disjoint of the middle section, which switched to first person, and I could never really get back into the third person of the rest of the narrative in
Jul 06, 2011 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women of all ages
Recommended to Judy by: Thanks, sarkiegirl, for sharing this book!
This was such an interesting story. I read it just in the past week because I wanted to pass it along in a bookcrossing book box. This story made me think about my own life, and how I have often contemplated on the fact that there are so many distinct compartments that don't have much overlap. For example, my childhood at home with my parents and my friends in my home town, and then there are my years at summer camp and my friends there, which were so transformative and where I made friends (and ...more
Jan 05, 2013 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this as it was a chosen book for an on line BC, would I have chosen it otherwise probably not. I don't know whether I liked or not but I was compelled to keep turning the pages so I suppose I must have done. Pippa's marriage to a much older man on the surface seems to give her comfortable lifestyle but as the book progresses through the various stages of her life, her past is revealed in all it's sordid glory. A past her children or current group of friends no nothing about, the relations ...more
Feb 23, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest I wasn't expecting much from this book; when it was first out I picked it up and put it down a few times but then I ended up with it somehow a few months ago and I decided to read it as it was thinnish. So, I am very pleased to say that I really enjoyed it! It's not such a deep book although it brings up important issues about the mother-daughter relationship but it is a fascinating study of a maturing woman who has, to all intents and purposes, been the perfect wife and mother who ...more
Mar 13, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My library has a program called "Books To Go". It's kind of like how grocery stores position the candy bars right in the checkout line, but less fattening. Books that are being made into movies or that have gotten a certain amount of press recently are typically featured on a shelf right next to the library checkout.
I expected this book to be lightweight chick-lit, a guilty-pleasure read, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The novel starts when Pippa is 50 years old, and looks to all the world to
Feb 03, 2013 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprised because I didn’t like his book at first thinking it a cliché of the snobbery of the modestly rich, liberal-minded, artistic, elitist New York-Hamptons crowd, but when I finished the book I was in love with Pippa Lee.

How did Pippa Lee get there? Did she belong? As her character emerges we see a waif out of control. She is acts out in depraved ways that are immoral yet noble and unselfish, and as her sub-conscience explodes, memories both shocking and troubling emerge.

Pippa feels settle
Adrienne Urbanski
Mar 09, 2010 Adrienne Urbanski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miller returns to the familiar terrain she first explored with Personal Velocity, exploring one woman's life path and ambitions. As a lost and listless soul, Pippa Lee cannot find a career or purpose to devote herself too. She instead loses herself in futile sexual relationships until she attaches herself to Herb, a married publisher thirty years her season. Once Pippa weds Herb she loses herself in the marriage, when Herb grows elderly she is forced to reside in a retirement community where she ...more
Laura Dickinson
Jul 14, 2012 Laura Dickinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is quite a short book, but length isn't everything and I really enjoyed it. It's about Pippa, in her 50s, who moves to a retirement village with her husband who is in his 80s. She becomes bored and this leads her to recall her life before she met her husband - a much wilder and more troubled life.

It is written in a style which is similar to how your friend might tell a story - not overly 'literary' or hard to get into. It's interesting to learn about her previous life, her relationship with
Jan 07, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: insanity-plea
After moving into a retirement community at least thirty years prematurely for the sake of the husband thirty years her senior, quintessential housewife Pippa Lee begins to meander very calmly and quickly toward a very quiet nervous breakdown. In between episodes of sleep-walking, sleep-driving, sleep-eating, sleep-smoking, and developing odd emotional ties to her neighbor's thirty-something wayward son (while very much awoke), Pippa narrates the road map of her troubled past that involves every ...more
Dec 31, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recentlyread
When I finish a good book - one that takes me out of my life, away from the droning of a plane's engine, a cold doctor's office, a mediocre day, and into a story - I go through a little mourning period. Now I have to find another book, and will it be as good?

That's how I felt after finishing Rebecca Miller's "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," (2008, Canongate Books, 231 pp.).

Read more of my review on my blog at:

Oct 26, 2009 Brandy rated it it was amazing
This has "Oprah Book Club" written all over it. I say that in a positive way. I couldn't put this book down. I kept waiting to find out what made Pippa...Pippa. I loved Pippa's voice and the way she could describe her "troubled" past without judgment. She neither bragged about her promiscuous life nor made excuses. I liked that. She was real. The ending threw me- I can't decide if it was a speedy/convenient wrap up or if that was Pippa coming full circle- back to where she started but with matur ...more
Mar 13, 2010 Hilary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-copy
Such melodrama. At 230 or so pages, this felt interminable. Totally sensible-seeming middle-aged wife to her elderly husband moves into retirement community, until the narrative suddenly shifts to a first-person telling of her young self's exploits in the big city - all of which are clearly meant to shock you. It shifts back into third-person at the end of the book, for more melodrama followed by Pippa's newfound but unearned contentment(?) with her reclaimed independence. Boring.
Jun 29, 2015 Corey rated it really liked it
This was good.
Siobhán Eloise ✿
Review to come!
Mar 19, 2012 Astrid rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has changed my life
Zoe Zuniga
three stars because of the writing quality, not for the pointless story about an unlikable unredeemable loser.

Spoiler alert!!

A damaged character comes out of a childhood with drug addicted mom and passive minister father to be nothing but a pretty hand puppet randomly worked over by anyone who happens to come along.

She makes her first sexual conquest in high school with a teacher who loses his job and marriage and continues the same way for the rest of the book.

Lurching into her 20s she easily
Oh right! For a book that a chapter in i had predicted what would happen in a predictable but not good way i feel two stars are generous...the authors writing is good but you don't grow to love or to particularly dislike any character. probably the best for me was suky and i didn't feel she was investigated enough within the story. the book is set out in parts with a mixture of past and present and none of it really adds to the story if im truly honest nothing happens in the whole book it probab ...more
Harsha Priolkar
Jan 11, 2013 Harsha Priolkar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Finally - the first great book of the year! And a corker it is too, not the subject but the handling of it and the excellent, original prose! This is how dysfunctional should be written. Haddon - are you listening? ;)

In her debut novel, Miller explores the life and times of Pippa Lee. The book is divided into 3 parts. When we first meet Pippa she's a 50-yr-old woman, living in a Retirement Community with her 80-yr-old publisher husband Herb. Her children, twins, a girl Grace and boy Ben are succ
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Rebecca Miller is an American film director, screenwriter and actress, most known for her films Personal Velocity: Three Portraits, The Ballad of Jack and Rose and Angela, all of which she wrote and directed.

Daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and photographer Inge Morath.

Miller married the actor Daniel Day-Lewis in 1996.

More about Rebecca Miller...

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“She's a mystery, a cipher, something nearly extinct these days: a person not controlled by ambition or greed or a crass need for attention, but by a desire to experience life completely and to make life a little easier for the people around her” 11 likes
“Courtship is romantic. Marriage ... is an act of will," said Pippa, taking a sip of water. "I mean, I adore Herb. But the marriage functions because we will it to. If you leave love to hold everything together, you can forget it.” 8 likes
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