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A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

2.74  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A razor-sharp, deeply felt new novel about the complicated relationship between a charismatic teacher and his students, and the secrets we keep from those we love

As a member of the Honor Society at Bailey Academy, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country, Ben falls under the tutelage of Pierre LaVerdere, a brilliant, enigmatic teacher who instructs his c
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Viking
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2.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  42 ratings  ·  17 reviews


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Kimber
Apr 18, 2019 added it
Shelves: fiction-general
The writing really flows in the first half of this book. But then it seems to stop...nothing seems to be going anywhere. Even though the plot addresses some tragic events, you still don't really feel like anything has happened. The characters feel like they are merely suggestive, it's so hard to engage with any of them. What I enjoyed was Beattie's use of language--she is a master of similes (if there ever was one) and I love some expressive and insightful moments like this one: "The trees were ...more
Mary
Apr 03, 2019 rated it liked it
I’ve been a bit exasperated with the currently fashionable critical focus on “stakes” in books, because it seems to put the focus on plot at the expense of beautiful writing. And then I read A Wonderful Stroke of Luck by Ann Beattie, and all of a sudden, I get it. Because there really is some beautiful writing here, as when Beattie compares a character to “cigarette ash, her grudges tiny, glowing embers waiting to flare” or describes a handshake as “a firm grip with soft skin, like a pillow-top ...more
Melissa Dee
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Ann Beattie’s novel is told from the perspective of a young man, beginning with his adolescence in a north-eastern boarding school for troubled kids, and continuing until he is in his mid-thirties, living in suburban upstate New York. While it feels risky for a woman in her 70’s to write from this perspective, it felt largely authentic and I was interested in Ben, his friendships, his relationships with women, and his career.

I have to say that I’m baffled by the ending. I turned back the pages o
...more
Susan
Apr 20, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: literary
I have no quarrel with the novel's writing and the language, but found the subject, plot and characters disappointing. The story begins at Bailey, a school for so-called troubled children. Ben lands there by accident, though, as he discovers late in the novel - a result of his father's anger and troubles rather than his own. The school's atmosphere, the arrogance and insecurity of many staff members, only add to the entitlement, self-absorption and identity issues of these students. They seem al ...more
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
A Wonderful Stroke of Luck by Ann Beattie is a recommended/so-so novel following a disaffected young man through his coming-of-age into adulthood.

Ben is an honor student at the elite Bailey Academy where he finds himself part of the honor society led by teacher Pierre LaVerdure. LaVerdere is a capricious advisor who teaches his group of students how to discuss topics, with both reason and deception. As Ben moves aimlessly on after graduation, eventually to college, and in and out of relationship
...more
Carolyn
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Ben is the sun that all of the other characters orbit. He has grown up, while the rest of his companions at the prep school have merely aged, keeping their adolescent insecurities intact. Ben reminded me of the main character in Catcher in the Rye. It seemed like I could have been reading a sequel, as if Holden Caulfield had moved on with his life, after setting aside his anger. However, by the time I finished the book, I wondered if LaVerdere wasn’t an older version of Caulfield. Thought-provok ...more
Michael
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5. I love Beattie's stories and this is the first of her novels I've read. I did enjoy it, even when it felt a little listless, and I thought Ben-and perhaps this was purposeful-was the least interesting character, which is a tough role for the protagonist, and unless the secondary characters are wildly fascinating, it's tough for the reader, too. Key West is discussed, though, which always fun.
Steve
Apr 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
Ann Beattie, what's happened to your writing? You were a short story writer extraordinare -- until the publication of "The State We're In" a few years ago. And now this insipid novel with its banal characters and lame plot. The uninformed reader would not recognize the book as being written by the same author who crafted "Chilly Scenes of Winter" and "Walks with Men". Sometimes the well runs dry, even for great writers. Please stop while you're ahead.
Patriciafoltz
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
First world problems going nowhere. I have read a lot of this authors stuff and loved it. Kept reading this one despite not knowing where it was meandering. There is so wonderful writing in it. Hence two stars rather than one.
Mama K
Feb 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a Beattie fan for most of her career, but this one didn't appeal to me much. I had trouble identifying an actual plot and didn't connect much with characters.
May be more appealing to a younger audience.
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Kathleen Gray
Mar 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Beattie fans know that she's wonderful with language. That's true for this novel as well. Regrettably, the plot didn't grab me. It felt stale in a way that surprised me. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. While I did not enjoy this, I'm sure others will.
Kathy
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Listened to audiobook.

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. - Dali Lama
Brenda Schneider
Apr 21, 2019 rated it liked it
I had trouble staying interested in the book. Really did not like the characters. I won this book through goodreads.
Lois Plale
Apr 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Why did this have good reviews? I couldn't even finish it, it was so tedious.
EJ
Apr 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
If only I could give negative stars. Run back to the store and return this, don't even start it!
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Ann Beattie (born September 8, 1947) is an American short story writer and novelist. She has received an award for excellence from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a PEN/Bernard Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form. Her work has been compared to that of Alice Adams, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, and John Updike. She holds an undergraduate degree from Americ ...more