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The Folded World: A Novel
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The Folded World: A Novel

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  303 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
When Charlie Shade and Alice Bussard find each other, neither is prepared for the powerful, aching feeling of love that unites them. After falling for the cheerful and empathetic young man, Alice asks God: “Please, leave us alone. Leave us just like this.” But as their relationship evolves, and their family grows with the addition of twin girls, so too does Charlie’s caree ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published May 8th 2007)
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Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had very high hopes for this book; there were even a few parts early on that led me to believe that it might end up on my list of favorites. The author has a gift for powerful, beautifully true statements that at times made me wish I had a pencil handy to underline them, and the book offers a rare and astute view into the overly-empathetic mind. It feels strange even to write that phrase, because I strongly believe that what the world needs most is moreempathy, but I also know from my own expe ...more
Jan 07, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a long-forgotten dusty shelf.
I was really displeased by this book. I felt the concept was ill-conceived, the writing was mediocre, and the characters' actions, interactions and behavior just bizarre.

Gaige wields a heavy head, weaving together a series of coincidences that builds an expectation of some significant resolution at the close of the book that we never see, making the opening pages of this book misleading.

I would recommend staying away from this one.
Feb 01, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Had to stop after the sentence "her days were filled with marriage and bergamot". Too much.
Sarah Beth
Charlie and Alice, two individuals who have always felt somehow other in their own families, meet and fall deeply in love. Soon, they're married, with Alice staying at home with their twin daughters and Charlie pursuing his career in social work. Soon, Charlie's empathy has been going too far for some of his mentally unstable clients, while Alice feels adrift navigating life with two infants and trapped in their one bedroom apartment.

Gaige tells Charlie and Alice's story with beautiful prose, w
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Folded World is the story of Alice, a bookish loner, and Charlie, an idealist who wants more than anything to "do good" with his life. They meet by chance and fall in love almost overnight. Charlie becomes a social worker and takes his career very seriously. Alice spends nearly all of her time caring for their young twin daughters. As the demands of their daily lives begin to pull them away from one another, the book takes a surprising turn. I don't want to give too much away, but as the tit ...more
Sep 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book falls in the "hard to describe" category. When my husband asked me what was about, I think I said "a young married couple, but a lot of other things, too." On the back of the book, a review said something to the effect that this book is about how lives are touched by both the absence and presence of love. It's a fitting little nutshell. The book is both subtle and particular at the same time. And the main reason I gave it four stars was Amity Gaige's writing. She has a knack for weird ...more
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adults, 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I liked certain parts of it, but others I found boring...
Since I really loved my psychology class in the summer semester, I was very interested in reading about the thoughts that go through the mind of a psychotic patient, and how at the time they seem to be right and beautiful, and they seem to make sense to them, yet they're entrapping them in their own selves. I understood how a suicidal psychotic patient might think, and that it's not only about despair or self loathing, it's also about them
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a deliciously strong start... i guess that would have been difficult to keep up. 3= a 4 for the first few chapters, and a 2 for the rest
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Showcases the complexities of human nature and relationships. Charlie Shade's dedication to his patients (as a social worker) and to his family often conflict. Will love or duty prevail?
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why I really liked it is for the writing, which annoyed other readers. I happen to believe in beautiful rambling sentences because it is better than reading elementary ones. Someone mentioned that nothing happens in this story but that isn't really true. The things that happen do so beneath the surface. This novel of a young married couple turns from quirky and sweet to dark and bitter. Of course there is sadness in the character study, how can there not be character study when one of the main c ...more
Mar 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that seems better to me after I've finished and sat back to think about it than it did while I was reading it. Charlie, a social worker dealing with the mentally ill, and Alice, the young daughter of a librarian, meet and fall in love with the "better" qualities of the other. Once they are married, and the parents of twins, Charlie finds himself all-consumed by his work, and in particular one client named Opal. Alice, on the other hand, finds herself overwhelmed by par ...more
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As much as I hate the word 'quirky' I am going to use it to describe this book and I mean that in a good way. I wasn't too sure what the heck was happening in the very beginning, but I am somewhat into the book now and I have to say that it's very well written. Some lines are so spot on in detail and feeling, and while I am a little anxious about the outcome of the characters, I think I am going to stick with this one.
Edited to add: I finished this the other day. I really liked it. I found the w
gwen g
May 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Loooooooooved this. Gaige takes an ordinary story about ordinary lives -- neglected woman, golden-boy guy, chance meeting on the street, falling in love, twin baby girls -- and turns it into something utterly beautiful by the sheer force of language and passion.

My favorite passage: "... that the universe was treacherous only in that it would outlast you, and knew your death and slowly breathed you in your whole life, but that despite all this, there were small ruins all over the territory, the p
Nancy Davis
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Complex story of a young couple and their first few years of marriage; she is shy, he is not. He throws himself into his work as a social worker and gets caught up (too much so) with his patients. Meanwhile, they become parents of twins. Alice is bored, home alone, and lonely while Charlie works. A few other characters add complexity to the plot: her mother, Opal, Hal . . . and I do like the way the story ends. Written in surrealistic, almost flowery language, it is a smooth read and full of tho ...more
Jun 22, 2012 rated it liked it
I just don't get it. This was the same as O My Darling - though I liked that much better. The story starts out wonderfully deep and interesting, and devolves quickly into something nonsensical.

She overwrites, and it's distracting. I particularly hate it, because I often - almost always - find that an overload of description detracts from the human emotions in a book. That's certainly the case here, and I kept feeling as if we, the readers, were missing something. The book was too odd for what it
Jul 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Read her recent work “Schroder” and loved it, so I wanted to read more by this author... But, I just couldn’t get into this book. The poetic language was confusing, contradictory and nonsensical. I also didn’t buy into the “soul-mate” premise. As a little boy, Charlie “senses” the birth of his great love Alice from 500 miles away. Too far fetched for me!

I also noticed a couple spelling and grammar mistakes in the text. I’m assuming these were purposely done by the college professor/author as poe
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a difficult time rating this book because there were times when I really liked it but then other times I just liked it. The writing is interesting and very well maintained throughout the novel. The characters were believable but their relationship was a bit over the top making it unbelievable until the author brought babies into their lives. Finally reality set in and we got a good look at how hard marriage is especially when both the husband and the wife carry a lot of baggage that they h ...more
Oct 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: breezy
The point of view shifts in this book are incredibly well done. I loved the movement that happened through this story, and the backstory that came through in the italicized sections. I breezed through it fairly quickly.
The portrayal of marriage as this wonderful, alienating, rocky, but persevering state was so refreshing and touching. All in all, the darkness and honesty of the story was comforting. Great book.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love or are mad or both
Shelves: fiction, literature
A journey into the madness of love and vulnerability. There is no explanation for this book that can do it justice. The characters are utterly tragic, their views undeniably existential yet surreal. What strength does it take to survive madness? What strength does it take to survive love? How do you balance these aspects of life, and how can you possibly balance your compassion with your essential passion? This book shares a beautiful perspective of what some would take as qoutidienne. Enjoy!
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed totally non-realistic and that was OK with me--I like "other-worldlyness" but then as I got into his career of trying to save every patient, I remembered my early days of teaching and realized the realism was there--true to the bone! I found this a strong page turner. Anyone who has ever been a teacher, social worker, nurse--who started out wanting to be of use in lif--will relate; and the rest of the world might understand better if they read this book.
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Beautiful! A lovely story, enchanting prose, engaging characters. There is an other-worldliness in the writing that makes the ordinary lives of the two main characters seem rather extra-ordinary and luminescent. I left this feeling as though I wanted Amity Gaige to write my life with her subtle touch for the wonder of love in light of human failings and the drabness of the world.
Lindsay D
Sep 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a really beautiful book that deals in surprising detail (not surprising that there can be so much detail, but that the details are surprising) with love and babies and madness. sometimes it feels a bit too poetic and forced, like some mfa student's stream of consciousness description exercise, but just go with it.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't know how I feel about this book. Well written. It certainly made me think. The characters were believable and complex. It is just the truth and pain in the book. I have a problem with mental illnesses, they are just so painful. This felt painful at times. I am sure others will find it very good.
Cynthia Shannon
I started reading the first 80 pages of the manuscript and got so into it, I cancelled a date that night to continue uninterrupted! I then read the rest of the story on the computer (full disclosure: I used to work for the publisher, so I had advance access, natch). Beautiful writing, excellent character development.
I really wanted to like this book...but somehow I found it painful to read. It could be that I picked it up while simultaneously reading something GREAT, and kept making comparisons. Maybe like dating two guys at get the picture. Anyway, I thought some of the language was pretty, and some of the ideas neatly abstract, but it wasn't enough to make me sigh.
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very Virginia Woolf. The description on the back makes it sound like a fun little novel about a couple, but every character in the novel has layers and all the layers of all the characters ultimately intersect philosophically. Thought-provoking, satisfying--as I said, very Virginia Woolf.
Bex Fisher
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a couple of years ago and it's still on my mind. She is am amazing write; so gifted. She crafts moods and relationships with such artistic precision. I love all her books but this is my favorite.
Rebecca Lartigue
If you like Lauren Groff's deep, rich characters, you'll appreciate Gaige's book. The stylized, somewhat sepia-toned prose definitely creates an immersive mood as you read and get absorbed by her characters and their struggles. This is my favorite book of hers.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing was pretty awesome but the story was majorly lacking in my opinion, and as I tend to value a story over the writing, this receives two stars from me. It was okay.
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Amity Gaige is the author of the acclaimed novel, O My Darling, for which she was chosen by the National Book Foundation for its “5 under 35” recognition. She teaches at the University of Rhode Island’s Feinstein Providence Campus and at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
More about Amity Gaige...

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“Suddenly, he wanted some credit for it. He wanted someone to thank him for not crapping on the institution of love. He wanted someone to thank him for not being yet another dilettante. He wanted someone to thank him for quitting poetry. He wanted some great poet to thank him for quitting poetry instead of desecrating it with his amateurishness. He wanted some unborn child to thank him for not conceiving her and not leaving her a hope chest full of mawkish villanelles. He wanted some sort of organization of martyrs to give him an award. He wanted to be decorated for not putting up a fuss. He wanted to be the president of forgettable people. He wanted there to be a competition for the least competitive person, and he wanted to win that competition. He wanted some sort of badge or outfit or medal or key or hat. He wanted to be asked to stand. He wanted to be considered. He wanted to be considered in earnest before being ignored. He wanted all the insane and beautiful and passionate people in the world to take one moment of silence in gratitude for the ones who had ceded them the stage-- he, the unread poet, the sacrifice, the schoolteacher-- he wanted one goddamned moment of appreciation.” 1 likes
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