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Herb 'N' Lorna: A Novel
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Herb 'N' Lorna: A Novel

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  194 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
On the surface Herb and Lorna Piper are typically sunny 1950s American adults. Herbs sells Sudebakers to the citizens of Bebbington, a Long Island seaside town, and Lorna is his cheerfully coy and clever wife. Their story seems like an American myth: small-town origins, Jazz Age romance, Depression trials, postwar prosperity. But this book begins with the shocking, wondrou ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 15th 1995 by Picador (first published 1988)
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Michelle Anderson
Apr 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I found Peter Kraft's book Herb 'n' Lorna under my feet on my way to my Grandmother's funeral when I was 14. I was in the back seat of her white Honda Accord, sitting behind my mother who was driving us to the Mormon church where my mother's mother's service was being held later that day. The front of the dust jacket was torn a little on the top, right of center. Kind of like my Grandmother. I carried Herb 'n' Lorna around that day, and took it home with me that night. It gave me something to st ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This was a pretty enjoyable novel, but I didn't like it as much as Kraft's prior work (a series of short novellas collected under the name "Little Follies"). Maybe I didn't like it so much because it was his first full-length novel; perhaps this isn't the best form for this author. Parts of it were sort of infuriating to me, like his spoof of the Marx Brothers (since I'm a Marx Brothers fan, I didn't find it very amusing). There were too many moments/characters in the story that were just too ha ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
a hilarious and sexy story about the creators of the erotic art jewelry industry. Herb and Lorna are wonderful characters, I wish I could meet them. this was a great airplane read, i couldn't put it down. except that it's a pretty sexy book and airplane bathrooms are small and just not all that sexy.
Rachel Groves
I read a review that said this book is basically a love story. A guy tells the story of his grandparents and I liked not only the idea what seemed like a great love story with a couple for whom it wasn't always smooth sailing but to see an elderly couple as the young people they once were. Although the odd ingredient here is that the Herb and Lorna both made erotic jewellery I was assured this wasn't an erotic book.

True it's not erotic but there is sex. Sex which doesn't seem to add much to the
Kathleen Maher
Jun 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I think Eric Kraft wrote this novel before "Flying." Herb and Lorna are the maternal grandparents of "Flying's" hero, Peter Leroy.
Again, the voice was quick and witty; the story often very funny, romantic and strange.
It begins with the Lorna's death, which prompts Peter to tell about his grandparents' life together starting from their births early in the 20th century. The country and climate feel faraway but the characters and their activities are so enduring and inescapably true to USA culture,
David Wrubel
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
It is difficult to describe Eric Kraft's novels, wherein he explores the life and times of his alter ego, Peter LeRoy, who grew up in Babbington, Long Island, the self proclaimed clam capital of America. But that's not the point.

Often, in fact usually, the episodes in Peter's life - whether in novel or short story form - are told out of sequence. Sometimes way out of sequence. Herb 'n Lorna is the story of how his grandparents met, married, and lived life together. They also have a MOST interest
Tim Roast
Mar 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Eric Kraft book I have read. I was intrigued to find out what it would be like after finding out that all his books form part of the Peter Leroy saga - this book being about Peter's maternal grandparents.

The book is written as if it were a historical essay. It delves into family trees and sources evidence from books, films etc. (all fictional evidence I believe) and also includes quotes of a good friend of the title characters too. This made it different in style to any other f
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reread
This is at least the third, or perhaps the fourth time I have read this sweet, wonderfully funny, idiosyncratic book. And it is as much of a pleasure as it was the first time. Peter Leroy tells the story of his grandparents, whose secret he does not discover until after their death. They were the inventers and masters of the art of creating animated erotic jewelry - Lorna the sculptor, Herb the fabricator, each working separately,keeping the other from knowing about it for years for fear of emba ...more
Julia Reed
Jun 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Don't read this book. I know, it's going to draw you in by promising to be a quirky tale about two people who love each other and don't realize that they're both secretly involved in an illicit folk craft: producing buttons, snuff boxes, and other gentlemen's accessories that depict sexual acts. Lorna is the skilled carver that can bring things to life, Herb is the mechanician who engineers the tiny moving pieces. But outside of this pretty small part of the book, this is your standard, boring, ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Presented as the biography of the grandparents of a fictional character, this lovely novel is a strangely engaging read. Though the book starts off slow and is a little difficult to really sink into, once the story takes off, it is difficult to put down. Well-written, sweet, funny, and a little naughty, this novel was an unexpectedly enjoyable offering. Herb and Lorna are wonderful characters that I found myself totally invested in- the grandparents any of us would love to have. This story of an ...more
Nov 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I like this book very much.

Liz recommended it to me, handed me her copy, in fact, and said I should read it.

It's a love story, written as if it were a work of nonfiction, a biography of the narrator's maternal grandparents. It's a story of love and sex and aging and love and sex and secrets and love.

The writing style is a perfect balance of challenging and accessible. There were even some words I would have looked up, had there been a dictionary at my side.

Some bits were funny, and some bits wer
Judy King
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Funny how few really different ideas there are for current's a topic I'd never heard before. On the day of his "Gamma's" funeral, a 30-something grandson is given a packet she'd left for him.

As he looks at the documents and enclosed items, he discovers that both his beloved grandparents have been creating coarse goods (tiny hand-crafted erotic figures -- most mechanically worked to be moveable. Some are arranged to be moved by winding the stem of a pocket watch case.

How these tot
Wayne S.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Since reading this book in maybe 1987 (??) I have never walked out of a used bookstore without taking every copy to be had.

These I have given to many a friend over the years. Some have been puzzled by it, but most have gotten it, and a few have completely fallen like me. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Who it's not for: if you tend to read mostly for plot, definitely skip it.

If, like me, you read for style, for nuanced, multi-dimensional characters and passing details that fascinate and ring
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bookclub
I found this tongue in cheek story charming. It has a fanciful quality about it, but at the same time nails the way that real couples interact (a code word for sex, or using an inside joke so much that it accidently slips out with other people who are very confused.) I love reading about sex and this story doesn't disappoint; confronting American prudishness head on.
Pam Gross kovitz
Couldn't finish this book.... lost interest
David Orenstein
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful sweet funny love story. In my top five all time favorites
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
The best thing about the book was the continuous will-they, won't-they throughout the book which kept me reading.
Ann M.
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I didn't hate this, but it wasn't compelling, and I almost quit @ 86%. I rarely abandon books, certainly not that far into them, but I almost did.
Stephen Kimber
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved this book when I read it over 10 years ago but it does not pass my five star test: I have not been able to re-read it. So I really give it 4.5 stars.
Oct 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully quirky take on America during and in between the war years! I love the portrayal of Herb and Lorna's marriage.
Laura June
Jan 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, love
Couldn't put this one down! Be warned: while it is about a couple who creates and sells erotic goods, it is NOT an erotic novel.
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a cute, funny story in the vein of John Updike. This story deal with the secret of the married couple but is also the story of a marriage. A cute fun read.
Amy Song
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Delightful! Thanks for the recommendation, Nora!
Joann Eaton
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
A young man delves into the life of his grandparents and discovers the secrets they kept from one another for many years. Great book.
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. A wonderful, funny, quirky love story.
Jun 12, 2010 rated it liked it
more like 3.75. good, but i kept wondering about the plausibility

Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fun and entertaining read!
Shelley Ettinger
Jan 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A real pleasure. Very funny, quirky, sweet and charming.
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
Not my favorite Eric Kraft, but definitely worth reading. A young man learns that his grandparents have scandalous pasts.
Tyler Jones
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-fun-stuff
You want to read a book that is funny, charming and intelligent? Read Herb ’n’ Lorna. You want a book that is isn’t any of those things? Go read some Mishima.
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Eric Kraft grew up in Babylon, New York, on the South Shore of Long Island, where he was for a time co-owner and co-captain of a clam boat, which sank. He met or invented the character Peter Leroy while dozing over a German lesson during his first year at Harvard. The following year, he married his muse, Madeline Canning; they have two sons. After earning a Master’s Degree from the Harvard Graduat ...more
More about Eric Kraft...
“Something told her to hide the feeling from Herb. That something, that damned something, was the sense of civilized dignity that is one of our most civilized attributes, the source of so many missed opportunities.” 2 likes
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