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3.09  ·  Rating Details ·  373 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Will has a good sex life–with the woman he married. So why then is he increasingly plagued by violent erotic fantasies that, were they to break out of his imagination and into the real world, have the power to destroy not only his family but his career? He’s about to lose his grip when he attends a college reunion and there discovers evidence of a past sexual betrayal, one ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published July 11th 2006 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2005)
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Nov 17, 2007 Elyse rated it it was amazing
This is another older Harrison Book which stayed with me.

Loved the writing- the tease- the mystery suspense..,
And a little steam!
Jason Pettus
Jun 20, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

This is an author I first discovered believe it or not through a random airport buy a number of years ago, when I picked up her racily-covered 2006 Exposure during a boring layover and ended up really enjoying it, albeit in a "high-class Judith Krantz" kind of way. And so when I came across her 2005 m
Nov 29, 2010 Luna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
Envy is an enigmatic and powerful story brilliantly told by the talented Kathryn Harrison. It's a story that crept under my skin and stayed there until the final tense pages. It's an extremely sad and dark story.

I love the way in which Harrison digs deep and tells us all the flaws and insecurities that rest in the characters. Perhaps I am supposed to feel disgust toward the main character, Will, over his actions, but I actually feel sympathy for him. I can't believe all the horrible things that
Oct 06, 2013 Tiffani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure where to begin. With the plot? It is difficult to describe the plot without it sounding convoluted. I’m not saying Envy is convoluted, but that my description of it would it be. It is a complicated story, at the center of which is Will, a man in his mid to late forties. He is married to Carole and father to Samantha and Luke. Will has a nearly identical twin brother, nearly identical because Mitch has a birthmark covering 60 percent of his face. The twins haven't spoken to one anoth ...more
Sep 16, 2012 Telaina rated it really liked it
Envy is exactly the sort of novel I enjoy--things happen but you are also treated to a fully-realized and intimate view of the main character's thought process and feelings. While the subject matter the plot revolves around might squick some people out, I enjoyed Harrison's fearlessness of having her characters grapple with (potential) incest, rape and sex between a married couple after the death of a child. There is a lot of symmetry in this novel also--the long-distance swimming brother, the d ...more
Bookmarks Magazine

Perhaps best known for her 1997 memoir, The Kiss, in which she recounted her affair with her estranged father, Harrison is an expert at exploring themes of transgression, betrayal, and obsession. Envy deals with it all: marital estrangement, sexual dysfunction, sibling rivalry, and parental grief. Though riveting in parts and suspenseful the entire way through, the novel's sheer drama, approaching the formulaic, suffocated a few critics. The characters (some flat, others narcissistic and passion

Mar 03, 2008 Coffeeboss rated it it was ok
I've liked Katherine Harrison (The Seal Wife) and been intrigued if a bit weirded out by her (The Kiss), and now I found a book of hers I didn't like. Rampant with sexuality, though barely stimulating, her characters cheat, manipulate, ignore, stalk, and steal each other's partners. Oh, and not too surprisingly, there is a tease of incest here too to make it all more shocking. Except that it is all actually pretty boring, and the main character Will, a psychiatrist, is so emotionally unstable an ...more
Stephanie Sun
Oct 03, 2007 Stephanie Sun rated it did not like it
Kathryn Harrison is a good writer, but Envy is not a good book. It starts off well, building up some interesting tension between the twins at the Cornell reunion scene. The dead son storyline wouldn't have been so bad either... and I suppose the twisted maybe-incest would have been sort of thrilling in a Gaitskill sort of way, except... this is ultimately a book about (view spoiler) and that's not a book I would ever knowingly sign up to read.
Nov 29, 2014 Patrick rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sally Duros
Sep 07, 2008 Sally Duros rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Boomers, aspiring writers
Shelves: fiction
I reviewed this book for the Chicago Sun-Times Book Review section. It was published 7/15/05. This book resides at the intersection of mysticism and psychology. It's insights are obscured by the parameters of the writer's own point of view. Huh? Read it and you'll see what I mean.

Kathryn Harrison's Envy: More Sizzling Sex Secrets
By Sally Duros

Kathryn Harrison has delivered a compelling tale in her brooding new novel, Envy. Readers who admired her controversial memoir, The Kiss, will find themsel
Feb 02, 2011 Christie rated it liked it
I have mad love for Kathryn Harrison. I think she’s a beautiful writer and she often tackles difficult subjects, train wrecks from which you can not turn away.

Envy is the story of psychoanalyst Will Moreland. The landscape of his life is pitted with estranged relationships (his identical – save for the brother’s wine-stain birthmark – twin, Mitch); death (his young son, Luke, killed in a boating accident) and a strained sexual relationship with his wife, Carole (they still do it, but not face to
Sep 05, 2009 Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
My thoughts so far, on page 198 out of 300: I must say that I had assumed, from the description, that this book would be a lot more "action"-oriented than it has turned out to be. The main character, Will, is philosophical and analytical to the EXTREME, oh my goodness; being that he is a pyschiatrist, I suppose it makes good sense that he would be. However, most of his self-analyzation - about himself, his life, his marriage, his non-existant relationship with his brother, his past, his present, ...more
Vera Neves (Sinfonia dos Livros)
Quando comecei a ler esse livro, estava à espera de ser apenas mais um livro de cariz erótico-romântico. Fiquei deveras surpreendida pela positiva.

Will é um psiquiatra de 47 anos, casado e com uma filha chamada Samantha. No entanto, nem sempre foi assim... à 3 anos atrás ele tinha 2 filhos, Luke e Samantha. O filho morreu num acidente de barco e passados 3 anos, Carole, a esposa de Will não consegue fazer amor com ele como antes... Tem de ser sempre de costas, sem contacto visual e a isso acresc
Dec 25, 2014 Erin rated it it was ok
Shelves: contemporary
When an author fails to write convincingly in the voice of an opposite-sex protagonist, it is always a deal breaker for me no matter how provocative the plot. But that is certainly not the case here, as more than once I had to remind myself that the author was female (thus the first star). No, the problem here is that Will's behavior and choices fail to ring true. Am I to believe, in addition to a dubiously convoluted (but intriguing, thus the second star) series of events that unfold, an experi ...more
Phil Jones
Mar 06, 2015 Phil Jones rated it liked it
Having read and enjoyed this writer's first novel 'Exposure' several years ago I was looking forward to this one, especially after the hype surrounding the 'shocking' subject matter. But the final performance doesn't live up to the fanfare. To begin with I hated the style of narrative - first person present tense. It didn't work. Instead of injecting immediacy into a rather jerky plotline it came across as someone scribbling their thoughts and observations onto the back of a cigarette pack as th ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Sophia rated it liked it
Kathryn Harrison's Envy is an engaging, suspenseful, self-contained novel. I say "self-contained" in the sense that it cleverly constructs a universe around the protagonist, a middle aged psychoanalyst named Will, which veers off from plausible life experience. The death of a child, an estranged and disfigured identical twin who becomes a famous long distance swimmer, potential paternity suggested by a college reunion class update report, and uncontrollable sexual fantasies of his female patient ...more
Nov 06, 2013 Kim rated it liked it
This book was so nutty, yet I couldn't put it down at times. I just wish Kathryn Harrison had managed to find one or two plot lines and stick with them because there's just too much going on here. Will's worries that his old college girlfriend's daughter might be his child, the death of his son Luke, the problems in his marriage, the problems in his parents' marriage, his sexually aggressive patient, and his estranged brother are all just too much to deal with and as I kept reading I just knew e ...more
Jul 07, 2013 Amy rated it did not like it
I've enjoyed other stories about long-hidden secrets and how they affect characters years later, but this was really the story of an incredibly self-centered man having a midlife crisis and the brittle, one-dimensional characters around him. Early on, I thought the story had promise - the possibility that Will fathered a child with his college girlfriend but didn't know until years later, the grief Will and Carole continued to experience over losing their son, the estrangement with Will's twin b ...more
Kat Ritchie
Oct 10, 2012 Kat Ritchie rated it did not like it
This book is ... Strange. Her writing is good. Fluent and smooth, it is easy to read, if only from the language point of view. The actual story, however, is harder to accept. The protagonist is a self centred rather tortured psychologist going through a mid life crisis, brought about by a school reunion where he meets his ex girlfriend again. Along the way the story devolves into far too much sex and dishonesty, death and cheating, lying, confusion, and betrayal. At the same time as I wanted to ...more
Jan 04, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
Wow. Although I disliked the author's "The Mother Knot: A Memoir," I decided to give this novel a try after seeing that it was a NYTimes Notable Book selection. I found this story gripping. Very edgy sexual content and lots of psychoanalysis. After the central character, a psychologist, attends his 25th college reunion, his inner life begins to unravel. From his initial question of whether he might have been the father of a former girlfriend's now-adult daughter follows his painful discovery of ...more
Jul 29, 2008 Jessica rated it did not like it
Recommended to Jessica by: book club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 05, 2009 Indigo rated it liked it
This book was really depressing at certain points and kind of disturbing. It's about this guy named Will whose son just died and is having a lot of complications with his marriage. At his college reunion he runs into his ex-girlfriend who has a daughter that could possibly be his. You start to learn about all the scandals he was involved with in the past and it becomes obvious that he still has feelings for this woman. The only reason why I didn't enjoy this book fully was because it was a littl ...more
Lori Anderson
Apr 17, 2013 Lori Anderson rated it did not like it
#######spoiler alert#########

There was not one likeable character in this book. Fractured families, death of a child, a psychiatrist who can't stop thinking about what it would be like to have sex with his patients (and later does, although he was tricked, and oh hey, she may or may not be the daughter he didn't know he had....I should have stopped reading there). It doesn't get any better when he discovers his estranged twin brother has been sleeping not only with his past girlfriends, but oh h
Sep 09, 2008 kristine rated it it was ok
boring porn as kathryn harrison tries to shock again.

if you want true harrison edge, read "exposure", "thicker than water", and "the kiss". she's able to summarize her fucked-up childhood in those three, and it's much more potent than the faux-shock factor in "envy".

about the only thing i enjoyed were THE SURPRISES, which i will now give away:

-the twin bro slept with all of the psychologist's former gfs, including his wife
-the psychologist SLEEPS WITH HIS POSSIBLE DAUGHTER (although she's not)

May 01, 2008 Jaime rated it liked it
The back of the book strongly pushes the sex aspect of the story, but I think really the story is about grief. It explores different types, degrees, and methods of grieving, along with different losses — children, siblings, intimacy, innocence and purity. Will is self-analytical to an annoying degree, and there were several times when I just wanted him to shut up already. If you don’t mind that, this is a pretty good story. I do wish you got to spend some more time with Carole. She and Will don’ ...more
Jan 02, 2014 Erik rated it did not like it
This book was terrible. I initially picked it up because of the NYTimes notable book flag on the cover, and then continued because the protagonist was a Cornell alum. The psychotherapist talk was awful, slow, and painfully written. There was a twist in the book that made me want to read through to the end, but there were so many loose ends and unanswered questions that it really added up to a waste of my time. The twist in retrospect was completely gratuitous.
Apr 03, 2009 nicole rated it really liked it
Kathryn Harrison is a masterful writer. This book is an incredible whirlwind with intriguing components: sex, love, marriage, identity, incest (?), and more sex.

If you've read her memoirs, some of this material will feel familiar. As someone who started with her non-fiction, I find her rendering of these narratives fresh and captivating, however familiar.

Mar 02, 2007 Sandy added it
Recommends it for: Psychology students
Katharine Harrison wove a variety of themes in to the book. The death of a young son is the cause for soul searching by the characters to reflect on their actions as sexual beings, relationships, and imperfect humans. Definately an R rating but gives cause to pause and think about envy on a deeper level.
Mar 30, 2008 Marguerite rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Twins
Recommended to Marguerite by: New York Times
Kathryn Harrison kept me turning pages in this, thanks to a deft use of suspense. I did anticipate one twist, and thought the wife's character was flat (though a refreshing contrast to the gaggingly reflective husband). But the pace and plot kept me interested. Not enough to stay up to read the last 50 pages, but close. I'll be looking for more of her books in the library.
Jennifer F
Sep 13, 2012 Jennifer F rated it did not like it
It took me literally to the middle of this book before it remotely got good. This author is lucky I can't not finish a book otherwise I would have given up completely. Way too much psychobabble and the story line was just weird. I don't care for the vulgar language either. You should be warned of that before you start reading.
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Kathryn Harrison is the author of the novels Envy, The Seal Wife, The Binding Chair, Poison, Exposure, and Thicker Than Water.

She has also written memoirs, The Kiss and The Mother Knot, a travel memoir, The Road To Santiago, a biography, Saint Therese Of Lisieux, and a collection of personal essays, Seeking Rapture.

Ms. Harrison is a frequent reviewer for The New York Times Book Review; her essay
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