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Lucky in the Corner

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  274 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Nora and Fern's relationship as mother and daughter is a tumble of love and distrust. To Nora, her daughter is an enigma -- at the same time wonderful and unfindable. Fern sees her mother as treacherous -- for busting up their family to move in with her lover, Jeanne. As their lives become complicated by the arrivals of a skateboarding boyfriend for Fern, a shadowy affair ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 14th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published 2002)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
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 ·  274 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Erika Nerdypants
This was a book about relationships. Mothers, daughters, lovers, siblings and friends, no one escapes Anshaw's very perceptive scrutiny. I loved the characters in this book, particularly the protagonists, Fern and Nora. Although this novel is not really plot driven, apart from the opening scene events unfold almost ploddingly slow, it is a wonderful character study, and concerns itself much more with how events affect the people experiencing them. I found the interweaving of the past which Ansha ...more
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've now read this book three times, which is almost unheard of for me. There are so many good books out there, who has time to keep rereading one of them, no matter how wonderful? But something truly resonated for me in Lucky in the Corner. The fact that most of us in life try to do the right thing and we succeed or fail at various times, in varying ways. And there is reward and forgiveness in both. We don't fail as human beings just because we fail to be wise in all our actions. There is a lot ...more
This book wasn't nearly as good as Aquamarine. Kind of a disappointment. The main character's mother was slutty, and somehow this was excused by the author and the other characters in the book. None of the characters were particularly likable, and the tone of the entire novel was a little dark and depressing. But it was interesting enough to keep me reading it, which is the only reason I gave it 3 stars. Had it sucked even 1 iota more than it did, it would have lost that 3rd star before it knew ...more
Faith Reidenbach
Jul 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Just when I was despairing that so little good literary lesbian fiction gets published in the United States, I met up with Carol Anshaw. This novel is perfection. It has an intriguing beginning, a pitch-perfect ending, a baby with personality, a dog with personality, 2 likeable men, lesbians with interesting problems, and a character who's part of an underacknowledged faction of the LGBT community: the straight adult child of a lesbian couple. Also, this is the best depiction of non-creepy sexua ...more
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: glbtq
I liked the way that Anshaw handled the issue of infidelity - and more generally, secrets - in this novel. She weaves this theme throughout the different characters' lives, including in the flashbacks to their earlier, younger days. She doesn't choose sides, but is pretty fair to everyone involved.

Anshaw also bring us to a satisfyingly dense climax, but the resolution of this final drama leaves the reader with little closure. What will happen to Nora and Jeanne? I suppose we just have to extrapo
Jessica Harlan
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't remember how I heard about this book and author Carol Anshaw, but I'm so glad I did! I found Lucky in the Corner so engaging and charming, and the characters so fascinating and multifaceted. Not a lot happens in this book plot-wise, which is actually just fine because it gives the reader a chance to really get to know this wacky extended family, with the lesbian mom, cross-dressing uncle, conflicted best friend, and old-school showbiz grandparents. I loved the Chicago setting, since I on ...more
Aug 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I think I'm turning into a Carol Anshaw fan.
Lucky in the Corner is a puzzling title, since none of the characters seem like luck is the main force in their lives, not even the dog named Lucky. Instead, the characters are real and plausible and interesting, doing things and interacting with each other in ways that make sense but aren't predicable. There's a strong plot, moving from A to B through moments of crisis, but since I prefer character to plot, it's not that important to me. I prefer the
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Understated and full of shadows...Nora and Fern are not your typical mother and daughter. Nora is a lesbian and has had a number of liasons. Now, her current partner Jeanne provides more stability, but Fern is a teen, and nothing is easy. Lucky is the dog who factors just a little bit in the book (should have been more!)The story takes it's twists and turns. Nothing is held back. I'd love to see more by Anshaw who is a marvelous storyteller.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great book, hard to describe about a mother and daughter in an unconventional family to say the least.
I found their relationship interesting and actually could relate to their disconnect with each other. I think the mother/daughter relationship can be such a complicated one full of push and pull. You love each other and cant stand each other at the same time.
I think Anshaw truly understands, her characters are real people and the story is very poignant.
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great characters. If you need plot, this is not the book for you. Intimate portrait of a modern family that has humor and is not afraid to show the real human condition in action. There's also lots of dog love, which makes me happy.
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I don’t think i would have finished it if it wasn’t required for class. I am glad I stayed with it— the moments of beautiful symbolism and characterization made up for the slow (at points) plot. The ending was lovely. Nice portrayal of two people struggling through life crossroads together.
Elaine Burnes
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, lesbian
I’ll give this four stars, not because it’s a story to like as much as one to admire. She’s about as good a writer as you’ll ever see. And she doesn’t shy away from lesbian characters or relegate them to the background. That’s refreshing, coming from a mainstream publisher.

However, after some action to start and meeting the cast (great!), she dug into back story, which was less interesting. There’s a ton of misdirection, which is not a bad thing. You get each character’s opinion of the others a
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Carry the One was such a wonderful book, so when I finally got my hands on more of Carol Anshaw's books I was happy to reconnect with her lovely sentences and delicious little comments and asides. This author is such a great example of "showing not telling" and I always feel a little elevated because she's trusted me to understand what she isn't "telling." We take comfort in little happy moments, gem-like sentences that sparkle in their settings. When she does tell, she seems to be letting you i ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
This one is a three and a half for me. I so love Carol Anshaw's writing, and this book is full of great turns of phrase, rich characters and difficult, but comprehensible, plot points. That being said, I was distracted from the book a fair bit of the story. She always found a way to bring me back and the ending was very satisfying. Of the Anshaw books I've read, I think I'd put it below Carry the One, and just above Aquamarine.
May 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Have to say I was a bit disappointed with this one. I'd read a bunch of good reviews and it won an award for being good lesbian-based fiction. While the character of Nora is someone you tend to be judgemental over you can understand her plight of never truly being satisfied in a relationship and once things get relatively stable she gets antsy and therefore must self-destruct. The reader empathizes with Fern over feeling a sort of abandonment by her mother because she's never really exposed her ...more
Jun 25, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I read this book based on Nancy Pearl's recommendation on NPR. I love her enthusiasm when discussing books and find myself catching her excitement. However, I was dissappointed when actually reading this. It had a potentially interesting plotline that never gelled for me and, while plot is not everything, it did not have much else to prop it up such as character development or prose. I would not recommend this book and would not reread it. ...more
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
I found this book when researching books with dogs/about dogs for work. I have been reading a lot of non-fiction and thought a nice, light read would be fun. I did like it, but can't give it a good review because the first half was so slow. The second have was quite good, but you have to get through the first half to get to it. And, Lucky (the dog) wasn't in as much of the book as I had hoped. I also just may not be as interested in light fiction as I used to...
Jan 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a long time to read this one. I definitely liked it better the more I got into it, but the plot is generally meandering. The characters seem like people you would actually meet in your everyday life, and I think I wanted more activity, more confrontations, more escaping if that is what the character is going to do. Lovely writing, but the story wasn't my favorite by this author.
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone!
This is such a wonderful little book. Lucky is a dog. I heard about it from that librarian Nany Pearl they sometimes interview on Morning Edition on NPR. All her suggestions are great, by the way. It's a coming of age novel about a young girl and her dog. Read it.
Mistinguette Smith
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Marvelously executed prose and fully realized characters with complexities, subjectivities and weaknesses just slightly more interesting than real life. I would read this again just for her great use of language and her elevation of snark to a literary level. Can't wait to read more by this author.
Mary Ayres
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
I kept feeling ambivalent about this book - which I think shows that it has power. You can't help but get so annoyed with Nora - maybe pissed is a better word. I really liked Fern's development. I wanted more of Lucky.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, kindle
By page 89, nothing has really happened, except maybe the mother has had a one-nighter, but maybe not. I loved Anshaw's story in Best American Short Stories 2012 or 13 (can't remember which), but this book doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
Jun 23, 2007 rated it did not like it
Too much. Maybe too overwrought. Not worth the effort.
Katie M.
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer, 2009
Meh. Incredibly mediocre lesbian novel.
Jun 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
excellent writer, good characters, great book
Patti Demarco
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Enjoyable read. Would like to read another book by this author
Oct 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
An unlikeable heroine an unsurprising outcome. A mess to clean up. Not so much.
Jan 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt
3.5 Stars. Well written...especially since classified as lesbian fiction, which is often unreadable.
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great insight into the characters; all flawed, all utterly believable, all loveable, all beautifully intertwined.
Shonna Froebel
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Really good.
Coming of age and mother-daughter relationships
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Carol Anshaw is an American novelist and short story writer. Her books include Carry the One, Lucky in the Corner, Seven Moves and Aquamarine. Her stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories in 1994, 1998, and 2012. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts (1992). She has won a National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, an NEA Grant, an Illinoi ...more

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