Rainbowgardener's Reviews > Family Linen

Family Linen by Lee Smith
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U 50x66
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Dec 20, 2010

did not like it

I want to like it more than I did, though I'm wavering between one and two stars. Tries to be all psychological/ Freudian and comes across crude and clunky. The "mystery" is all on the surface and obvious, the characters are stereotypes or parodies, none of them are likeable. Nothing much to say. Don't waste your time.
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message 1: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Gorski I just finished Guests on Earth, the third Lee Smith novel I've read. I adored Fair and Tender Ladies, but Guests on Earth needed tigthening. First, there were far too many characters to do any of them justice. Second, if you're going to write about mental illness, than WRITE about it. Most of the novel takes place at Highland Hospital where patients are given insulin overdoses and electric shock as part of their treatments by well intended staff. This all takes place on the top floor of the Central Building. But Lee never lets us see the horror of this treatment, the side effects or the failures. You would think these patients are at a Country Club as Smith spends more time telling us about the hikes they take, the flowers they plant or the dance recitals that are performed. And we don't see how the families are devastated by their loved ones illnesses. And what was most irritating were all the famous people that appear in the novel such as Nina Simone and Zelda Fitzgerald. Both characters were completely unnecessary to the plot. With the right guidance and editing, Guests on Earth could have been a superb work of fiction. Lee Smith is clearly a gifted story teller. But there was too much fluff and not enough grit. A great novel tells the truth, even when it's ugly. This novel would have been much more compelling with less lipstick.


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