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A Woman of Means: A Novel
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A Woman of Means: A Novel

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  142 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Gerald Dudley is an executive at a hardware company in St. Louis, living the quintessential bachelor life with his young son, Quint. He is also a man who aspires beyond his means and class. When Gerald meets the wealthy divorcée Ann Lauterbach and the two marry, life changes irrevocably for Quint. He enters a social world of private schools and debutante balls known to him ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published June 15th 1996 by Picador (first published 1950)
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Jo Ann Hall
Aug 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This sad, sensitive novella set in 1950s St. Louis is the story of a young man's coming of age and simultaneous break-up of the marriage of his father and his wealthy step-mother. There are potent reminders that all children, even those who are considered adults, must be loved for themselves and not for what they possess or represent for others.
Lobstergirl
May 31, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Jonathan Yardley
Shelves: fiction
Sometimes you read a 19th century novel and it feels wonderfully current, relevant, and real. Other times you read something published in 1950 and it might as well have taken place on Uranus, its situations and language are so remote from 21st century experience. That was the case with this novella, which came highly recommended by Jonathan Yardley. For me it had small echoes of other works, such as The Death of the Heart by Elizabeth Bowen (an excellent book), and A Separate Peace, works dealin ...more
Matt Simmons
Mar 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
Taylor's apprenticeship novel shows, in distilled form, all of the various themes and subjects he'll explore throughout his entire career. In that, it's interesting as a literary artifact. But as a evocation of a time, a place, a class, and the instability of all of those, as a story of growing up and seeing how fragile, frightened, and even petty your parents are, as a meditation on home and what it is and how it's made and how the myths of our own pasts help us to figure out what home is, and ...more
Kate
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Sharon
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Peter Taylor is a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction. Lovely story narrated by a boy 12-13 years old. His mother died when he was born and his father always has work but they move many times. Quint lives with his grandmother and cousins and other relatives in the country in Tennessee until his father meets and marries a wealthy woman in St. Louis. Quint is collected from his grandmother and finds his new family to be wonderful, including two older sisters. His stepmother is loving and treats him ...more
Christian Kiefer
Jan 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to me by Richard Ford. Taylor's first novel is a masterpiece of compression and character development and reminds me at times of Joyce's Dubliners in its build to a psychologically penetrating climax. So fine.
Pascale
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mystifying. This book is so compact and oblique (traits I normally value) that the melodramatic ending took me completely by surprise. Did I miss any clues? The story is told from the point of view of Quintus Cincinnatus Lovell Dudley, a teenager whose mum died giving birth to him. His early life has been spent alternately on his grandmother's farm in the South and in boarding houses with his dad, a hardworking salesman. In circumstances left unaddressed, Gerald meets and marries Ann, a wealthy ...more
Steve
May 05, 2012 rated it liked it
An early novella by Taylor (1950), better known for his short stories. Set in 1920's St Louis, the climatic event is very 1950's - in fact it is very 19th C in its view of the fragile, "nervous" wealthy female. I love short works, but this could have used some filling out, it felt like some events were just dropped without the further development they could have used. What I like most about the work, and a signature point of Taylor's style, is the leisurely 1st person narrative which only shares ...more
Robert Schwab
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
As a fan of Peter Taylor's short stories, I was eager to read one of his three novels, and chose this one at random. It was a short, easy read on a plane ride, and I found the writing as good as I have come to expect from Taylor. His characterization and descriptions are vivid and engaging. I was not captivated as much by his story in this book, the tale of a widower and his son, whose lives change dramatically when the man remarries a woman far above his own station. The son, whose mother died ...more
Vicki Luschek
May 07, 2009 rated it it was ok
A small, early book by Taylor. Good writing but story is a bit lame. About a young boy and widower father who marries a divorcee with 2 daughters and the inner action that takes place. Set in the 1930s.
Heather Hunt
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
I recently discovered this author. This is the second book I've enjoyed reading by him. They are short stories about families in the midwest during the early 20th century.
Angela Gill
Jul 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really like Peter Taylor, but wasn't thrilled with this small novel. It was a big disappointmnet after Peter's reputation.
Thomas Baughman
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
A first-rate little book
Courtney Stirrat
I lost this for awhile under my bed and did not realize that my cat had taken it hostage! Thus far, the writing is good and the young man in the book lives several blocks away from where I live.
JoAnn/QuAppelle
Feb 04, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This book just did not interest me. I will try some of his other set-in-the-south books. This was not one of them.

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Peter Matthew Hillsman Taylor was a U.S. author and writer. Considered to be one of the finest American short story writers, Taylor's fictional milieu is the urban South. His characters, usually middle or upper class people, often are living in a time of change and struggle to discover and define their roles in society.
Peter Taylor also wrote three novels, including A Summons to Memphis in 1986, f
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