godfrina's Reviews > The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller
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Oct 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2010
Read from July 25 to October 08, 2010

First off, to be perfectly honest, I only picked up this book in an HMV in London because it was only £ 3.00 and I've previously heard about the movie.

Even though I still haven't seen the film the literary source didn't disappoint me.

The shortish story is divided in four main parts. It creates an atmosphere and mood on its own which has to be matched. And which had gripped me by the time I reached part two.

Pippa Lee's story starts off in the present, when she is past 50, her husband Herb going on 80 and they are moving to a retirement community. There, Pippa is one of the youngest residents. This is one of the reasons she starts to reflect on her life: Her two children are independent and successful in their life and the thought that life still holds something else for her but waiting for her aging husband's (and also her own) death, absorbs her mind.

Part two unravels Pippa Sarkassian's past; how and why she came to be who and where she is, what people influenced her. Pippa's childhood was unusual but loving, yet her life took turns nobody could have foreseen. Her teenage years were far from ordinary, still she spent years roaming the streets, searching for something, searching for a purpose, searching for peace of mind she thought she had finally found in her love for her husband Herb.

To not spoil the twists and developments of part three and the shortest fourth part, I best end my review quoting my favourite passage of the book:

"Still wakeful on the night of the whips and chains, I mulled over my life so far. I was a botch. I could see no future. I had no plans. I saw no example I wished to follow. I didn't want to be a nurse, or a stewardess, or a secretary; I didn't want to work in the meatpacking district or be a housewife. I just wanted to prowl around. I walked the streets endlessly. Watching people. I had a ravening mind; I wanted I wanted I wanted. I wanted into people's lives. I followed couples as they scurried down the street, carrying groceries and bunches of flowers, children tugging on their arms. I followed businessmen on their way from work. I followed elegantely dressed women who marched resolutely down the street and raised their hands for taxis. They were all bustling, all running, all rushing. Everyone in New York City seemed to have a purpose, except for me. I was driven by a need with no end, no goal. I was looking for love, I think, though that's not what it felt like at the time. At the time I felt hard and cold as a knife in the snow." (page 109, part two)

If you are looking for an intelligent, insightful, thought-provoking piece of women's literature, you have found it.
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