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Saul and Patsy
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Saul and Patsy

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  871 ratings  ·  96 reviews
Five Oaks, Michigan is not exactly where Saul and Patsy meant to end up. Both from the East Coast, they met in college, fell in love, and settled down to married life in the Midwest. Saul is Jewish and a compulsively inventive worrier; Patsy is gentile and cheerfully pragmatic. On Saul s initiative (and to his continual dismay) they have moved to this small town a place so ...more
Paperback, 317 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Vintage Contemporaries (first published 2003)
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Saul and Patsy are in love. (Maybe too much so, according to Saul's mother, who thinks it's show-offy to be so in love and that it makes other people uncomfortable). They live in a small town in Michigan, off a dirt road, where they have moved from the east coast because of Saul's whim to be a teacher.

"Saul and Patsy": yet another sigh-inducing and pleasant Charles Baxter novel.

Saul is neurotic, in his own head, and wishes the rest of the world was like Patsy. Meanwhile, she is the voice of rea
There's a sort of twee tone to this, which I found a bit off-putting. The pacing is unusual: it never seems to vary, with the dramatic and the mundane narrated in the same off-hand way. Initially, this is a problem as it meanders too much, but it does get better – around the 100 page mark – and then seems to find its stride, but it never manages to be gripping or moving.
Sarah Jo
Ya know what? I didn't particularly care for a single person in this book. Maybe including so many character flaws was an attempt to invoke sympathy due to extreme realism, but I found it hard to enjoy following through when I didn't really give a damn about anyone.
quite possibly one of the most annoying books i have ever read.
saul is a really forced cliched character. baxter does a horrible job of attempting to create a realistic "neurotic jewish" guy. it's been done before, by far better writers.
Lauren Albert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Although the first hundred pages had me evocatively remembering summer '09 (for reasons I can't quite quantify, although I tried to in the big review), the last two-thirds go to something simply good. It's the Midwest, it's the story of a couple and their building of a family - what more could it really be? We've all read so many stories like this, what makes this one different? The thing that makes this one different is the character of Gordy, who only appears for a short while but impacts the ...more
Paul (formerly known as Current)
Although there are parts of this novel that shine, in the end, it seems to meander and simply fade out without resolution of any issues. Perhaps as a slice of life, a plotless set of events that occur to a couple, it holds together. Here is how people live--in the midwest--and some of the odd events that occur even in such a plain and rather boring place. Baxter captures some very human moments--the intimacy of a married couple and the growth of their relationship.

So, why was I disappointed with
It was a gigantic MEH. I'm gonna articulate the exact reason, lest I become what I condemn. Saul and Patsy are a married couple who've moved to middle America to undumb the dumbness that's been done. It's not the most enticing premise, but I think Baxter's great so I gave this a chance, 61 pages to be exact. Here's my problem. Characters do things for reasons. People operate under the laws of cause and effect. It's simple. My problem is that Baxter broke this rule. Saul's this very rational teac ...more
I have no doubt that Charles Baxter will be noted as one of our most thoughtful and philosophic American writers of this time period. He has moved impressively from short story collections (my experience with his work started with _A Relative Stranger_) to a full-blown novelist. Even from his first novel, _First Light_, Baxter has shown a great mixture of a kind of old-school character depth, with high school teachers able to discuss railroad companies and quote classics in normal conversation, ...more
As an avid admirer of Baxter's work, this promising novel was a bit of a let down. I'd just read the short story that introduced Saul and Patsy earlier this year, and they are very interesting characters, a transplanted Jewish intellectual and his free-spirited wife who find themselves settling in the outskirts of suburban Michigan. The first half of the novel is engaging and mature, as it traces the development of their relationship from insatiable newlyweds to the challenges of early parenthoo ...more
Sally Whitehead
I like Saul and Patsy. As characters and a couple, I REALLY liked Saul and Patsy. Unfortunately the novel as a whole never quite took off for me. And I normally LOVE character driven books where, essentially, little happens.

Somehow the whole tone of the novel is trapped somewhere between coming-of-adult-age and a middle aged reflection.

There are fleeting glimpses of social satire, but it never really fully elevates itself above the small town midwest ennui our protagonists inhabit.

Maybe that's
Although Saul and Patsy both came from the east coast, they are living in Michigan and have settled into a fairly typical midwestern life style. Saul is a teacher and Patsy is a loan officer in the local bank. They have a baby daughter and are very much in love.

Then Saul is assigned to teach a remedial class and Gordy Himmelman comes into their life. Gordy is learning disabled, lives with an aunt in very poor circumstances and seems totally hostile in school. But he becomes fixated with Saul and
This was my second Charles Baxter book, and while I didn’t like it as much as A Feast of Love, I liked it a lot. Saul and Patsy are a young couple from the east who end up in Baxter’s mythical town of Five Oaks in Michigan. Saul, who is Jewish, is a high school History teacher, and Patsy is a loan officer in a bank. In large part, the book focuses on how out of place Saul and Patsy are in this Midwestern town, and especially so, Saul because of his Jewishness. Baxter plays with the contradiction ...more
This book was such a HUGE disappointment compared to one of my favorite reads several years back, Feast of Love. That book, I devoured! This book, I'm glad I only picked up at the dollar store! I nearly didn't bother to finish, but I was hoping for more...certain events did pull me in and catch my interest to see how they'd play out, so that kept me going along enough to finish. I guess my main problem was that I just didn't like EITHER Saul or Patsy. As much as the author tried for their inner- ...more
"Saul and Patsy" is a wonderfully compact exposition on so many things in life. Written in a style reminiscent of both Bernard Malamud and Jonathan Franzen, this book unabashedly examines many of modern society's difficult subjects including teenage violence, generational divides, anti-Semitism and social ostracism. All of Baxter's explorations into these topics are thought-provoking and sometimes anger-inducing.

All through the flaming barbs and social taboos however, Baxter weaves a charming l
Beth Anne
this book is difficult for me to review because i'm still not sure how i felt about it. what i can say is that there is not one truly likable character in the group. i didn't feel like i was rooting for any of them. but that didn't really bother me. usually i'd hate a book that gave me no one to cling to. but...for some reason, i kind of liked reading the lonely desolation that this couple felt. even while they were "so in love", the title characters both felt extreme solitude at different times ...more
"Don't try to figure out why you love some guy. You'll only figure out that you shouldn't."

"The spaces between them could be measured in millimeters, infinitesimal spaces expressing an inexpressible failure of desire."

"You could sometimes love someone, as it turned out, after that person was gone, though not before. One of life's larger ironies, its habit of making what was absent, visible."

A stranger plot than I had anticipated, but not in a bad way. A strange, stupid high school dropout sho
Vincent Desjardins
Saul is an idealist and a romantic. He sees it as his political responsibility to be a teacher to help in "the great project of undoing the dumbness that's been done." When a disturbed student of Saul's commits a desperate act, Saul and his wife Patsy's lives are changed forever. One of Baxter's many strengths as a writer is his ability to make you believe in the love shared by his characters, to accept their quirks and to like them, even with their many flaws. I have been a fan of Baxter's sinc ...more
Caitlin Griffin
i really love charles baxter's writing, in this and in feast of love. But i just didn't connect to this novel as much. i hated patsy. it bothered me that it was mostly from saul's or patsy's POV but then all of a sudden there was a chapter from some random-ass girl in the town, or howie, right at the end. it made the plot feel extremely disjointed.

i also found the end rather anti-climactic. i actually have no problem with the climax of the book being in the middle; i've read a few books like tha
I almost didn't finish this book, but I'm glad that I did. Elements that seemed random and, perhaps, indulgent while I was in the middle of the story came together at the end. It's not that loose ends were tied, exactly -- more that the weight and variety of the story's events adds up to something once you've completed the journey. In my opinion, it's an interesting and affecting love story, especially since the traditional central drama of a romance, the hooking up, happens before the book begi ...more
Not as good as the Feast of Love, but still a good read - far better than the Soul Thief. Many reviews on this site say they didn't like any of the characters enough to like the book. I disagree - I thought the characters were easy to relate to, and as usual, Baxter did a pleasant job of dissecting both sexes view of their marriage and events surrounding the plot. Baxter also just has a talent of every so often coming up with brillant descriptions and/or sentences/thoughts that are so good that ...more
Nick Duretta
I'm giving this an "I really liked it" four star rating, although I'm not quite sure why. Baxter's characters, including the title couple, are wonderful-- sharply drawn, idiosyncratic and all a little off-kilter. His prose is mesmerizing. But the story meanders along, leading this way and that, and just when you think it has found a center or a unifying theme, it goes off in another direction. We're shown an array of people, some with severe problems that are never resolved. It is all kind of li ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2008 Caroline rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: susannah
I read this a couple summers ago, so it's a little distant, but what I remember is that it's about how even within a relationship you can still be lonely and alone. it sounds sad, but it didn't make me sad, just made me reflect. it's very pensive and there are some beautifully written description of summer nights and that make me feel like i lived in this little lake town in michigan. he writes about characters that I know...maybe you will too? I really like his style and definitely will check o ...more
Read this book during a snowstorm when I couldn't get out to find something good to read. Guess that's a plus for the Kindle.

What was the point? Saul and Patsy move to rural Michigan where he takes a middle school teaching job. He teaches a sped. class and one of his "losers" starts showing up in his yard and eventually kills himself. Saul is not a sympathetic character; I had a hard time caring about his small problems and his life. But the snowstorm (6th largest in D.C. history) kept me readin
Pam Rasmussen
I don't know quite what to say about this book. It's very well written, and the story is strangely engrossing. I just don't know what the "point" was. I guess I'd say it's about the anatomy of a marriage -- starting out strong, then declining, but then building back up again to something more durable and satisfying. And in the background is this strange kid who is obssessed with them, and lingers rather like a bad penny (or maybe a good one.. .who knows) throughout the entire story. But Baxter n ...more
Charles Baxter is one of my new heroes. His writing is so precisely beautiful it reaches moments of true transcendence. The fact that it does so even when communicating subject matter as dark as this is a testament to his greatness.

Baxter also has a knack for tapping into the thought life of the neurotic American male... I'm not going to share how much of that thought life I related to as I read this, but let's just say it was an illuminating experience. A true work of literature.
The writing and character development are excellant. It was interesting to look into Saul's quirky mind and thoughts. I started out really into this book but about midway through began to lose focus due to lack story line development. The book was due and I ended up returning to library without finishing. I think I will try his other recommended book Feast of Love which has good reviews because I do like his writing.
Great writing, of course--I mean, it's Charles--or "Charlie," if you were in the English dept. at U of M and wanted to look like you knew him--Baxter.

But. Even while admiring the writing, I was stopped cold by the characters, who seemed too intricately plotted and just plain annoying. I usually hate when anyone says they didn't like a book because they hated the characters, but this was the case here.
I really expected to enjoy a Baxter more than I did this one. I'm not even sure why I didn't. The writing was good, but it just didn't do much for me. I could feel bits of it, but not more than that. Also, there are some jumps during the course of the novel that just didn't feel like the same book to me. I'm sure others will like this one just fine, but it wasn't working for me.
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Charles Baxter was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Macalester College, in Saint Paul. After completing graduate work in English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, he taught for several years at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 1989, he moved to the Department of English at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor and its MFA program. He now teaches at the University of Minnes ...more
More about Charles Baxter...
The Feast of Love The Soul Thief Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot Gryphon: New and Selected Stories

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“His was the kind of beauty for which you would pay the price of a lifetime of sorrow and all the varieties of rage. Eventually, you would have to go to church to get rid of him.” 6 likes
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