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Cleaning Nabokov's House

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,160 ratings  ·  309 reviews
“I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.”

So begins Leslie Daniels’s funny and moving novel about a woman’s desperate attempt to rebuild her life. Whe
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Touchstone (first published 2011)
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3.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,160 ratings  ·  309 reviews


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Jacob Appel
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melanie Cohen
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
There were things I liked about this book, which is about a woman who lost her kids in a divorce and eventually buys up a house once lived in by Vladimir Nabokov. I loved reading the snippets of Nabokov woven throughout the book. Nabokov was the reason I picked it up in the first place. I even thought the writing itself was mostly good, syntactically. However, the problems I had with the book outweighed what I liked about it.
The main character, Barb, was SO annoying within the first hundred page
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Laura
Jun 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book
I downloaded this audio book without remembering why I had requested it. Just going by the title, without any book jacket to set me straight, I thought I’d be hearing a fairly dense literary tale, reflective of Nabokov. Instead I got a nice wry and sardonic romantic comedy, that yes, does have something to do with Nabokov, but not in any way one might have expected. Most of the story is wildly unrealistic, but are we really looking for realism in what turns out to be a cute romance?

Newly divor
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Jane Stewart
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: womens-fiction
Pretty good and kept my interest. But I was annoyed with some things.

(view spoiler)
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Mmars
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
There are so many books out there that are not really good literature and also not bad popular fiction. For some reason this book sparked my interest. A review? Something I read here on Goodreads or in a magazine review? The title, quite possibly. Sadly, another contemporary fiction book that let me down.

I actually enjoyed the main character and narrator, Barb, in a way. She puts herself down a lot, as one who has just left a marriage might,and she's offbeat but she somehow muddles her way thro
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Jan
May 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Barb Barrett is approaching age 40 when her life gets turned upside down. Her husband is divorcing her and he is taking their two children. She moves into a home once owned by Vladimir Nabokov and finds a manuscript that she believes is a lost work of his. She tries to get it published or at least find out who wrote it as the "experts" don't think it's Nabokov's work. She is also trying to get the kids back. She has to find a way to make a living. How she goes about this is very clever. It invol ...more
Janet
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Hate to review another book that's not out yet, but cleaning Nabokov's house soooo good, funny and incredibly twisty, spot-on characterizations. It starts out slow, you think it's going to be a depressing small book about this poor kind of nebbishy, odd vague woman whose husband basically steamrolled her in the divorce--and turns out to be laugh-out-loud funny, gentle and humane. Watch for it!
Michelle
2.5 stars. Fun book about a (very) late 30s woman who has to rebuild her life after her divorce and, more importantly, losing custody of her two children. It hovers over some middle ground between chick lit and women’s fiction. Barb, the narrator, is easy to root for because though she’s down you know she’s not out. This book does require quite a bit suspension of disbelief. The narrator opens a whorehouse (revealed in the first paragraph) but the clients are women. Um, I don't think so. The rea ...more
Elizabeth
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janet Gardner
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Barbara Barrett is recently divorced, underemployed, displaced from her beloved New York City, and worried about her upcoming fortieth birthday. Mostly, though, she’s desperately missing her two children. Her control-freak ex has taken custody, having demonstrated in court that Barbara is unstable (possibly true) and an unfit mother (decidedly untrue). She finds what may or may not be an unfinished novel manuscript by Vladimir Nabokov (for a brief time in the 1950s, he rented the house she lives ...more
Sarah
Jul 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sarah by: Jenny
Shelves: read-in-2011
I love reading books about people who have messed up so deeply and painted themselves into such awful corners that it's nearly impossible to see how they'll ever triumph again. And then I love watching them triumph. CLEANING NABAKOV'S HOUSE has all that and more going for it; it's literary and witty and poignant, but also hysterically funny. A friend gave me the book because it takes place in upstate New York (where I went to college), and because it deals with books and the publishing industry. ...more
Denise
Apr 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Cleaning Nabokov's House is Barb Barrett's story of falling apart during her restrictive marriage and nasty divorce and pulling herself together again so she can get her children back. I found the book to be both full of tired clichés and bizarrely unrealistic and fantastical. Barb's "ex- person", as she calls him, is a caricature of a bad ex, her kids are cute and quirky in a very one-dimensional way, and she is just plain crazy. I found all the stuff about Nabokov's supposed unpublished manusc ...more
Patricia
Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Notable authors, such as Karen Joy Fowler, Alison Lurie, Dorothy Allison and several others, have high praise for Leslie Daniels' novel. They describe the book as "witty, original, appealing, charming, quirky, captivating and moving." Can all of those writers be wrong? No. Cleaning Nabokov's House is everything that it's cracked up to be. This is one of those rare books that's so delicious that you want to devour it in one sitting, yet you have to slow down because you don't want it to end.

Ba
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Nicolas Shump
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
I have to admit that I was drawn to this book because of the title. The book jacket tells me that the author, Leslie Daniels is an accomplished writer and editor with an MFA degree. So I knew that I could expect polished writing and a good narrative structure, unless she tended more towards the metafictional side of things. Thankfully she doesn’t.
Instead, Daniels crafts a compelling and ultimately optimistic novel about literature, fame, motherhood, and the costs of divorce. Barb Barnett is t
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Aindrea
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, because it was about a person who went through an unfair part of her life(as we all have) and pulled herself out of it. She didn't give in or up and even though it took her a while she succeded without compromising who she was as a person.
RNOCEAN
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*CLEANING NABOKOV'S HOUSE* by Leslie Daniels
“I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.” So begins Leslie Daniels’s funny and moving novel about a woman’s desperate attempt to rebuild her life. When Barb Barrett walks out on her loveless marriage she doesn’t realize she will
...more
Kristie J.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
O - m - g. I hate to give a book one star, but there were just too many times when I was listening to the audiobook and muttered to myself "Omg" or "You have got to be kidding me" and rolling my eyes. First of all, I get frustrated with books whose titles have very little to do with the story. In this book, Barb's finding of Nabokov's lost manuscript was a minor part of the story and she wasn't exactly cleaning when she found it. I like the basic premise of the book: a middle-aged woman hitting ...more
Carla Ford
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Barb Barrett is a hero to women who think they are trapped in a marriage or a life that doesn't fulfill them. Okay, possible she could think things through a little better than she has lately, but then again, her instinct seems to be her best guide. Stuck in a marriage to a man who seems to want to control her every move, along with squashing her personality and individuality, Barb decides that she has had enough and leaves, taking her two children, Sam and Darcy, with her. Unfortunately, she ha ...more
Lori
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011june
From the opening graph -- “I knew I could stay in this town when I found the blue enamel pot floating in the lake. The pot led me to the house, the house led me to the book, the book to the lawyer, the lawyer to the whorehouse, the whorehouse to science, and from science I joined the world.” -- I knew I liked Leslie Daniels and her main character, Barb Barrett.

The book isn't chick lit, exactly, and certainly not that that brings to mind Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte. But it is about a
...more
Lynn
Feb 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Thank you goodreads for chosing me to read your book. I wasn't sure what this book was really going to be about by the cover. I thought the book started out to be one of those run of the mill stories, about a women who lost her children to a bad divorce and how she struggled to make ends meet, etc... Well, Cleaning Nabokov's House has many twists and turns, which you sure would not expect when you first begin to read this book. I thought the book was entertaining and showed how thinking out of t ...more
Jen
Jul 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Recently, rating books.. I have been a bit generous. This book is probably a 2 1/2.
Barb's life is a mess, divorce, reaching 40, husband got kids, underemployed, lonely, missing her NYC and dead father.... she is really a woman in transition.
In the midst of all, Barb buys a home, once rented by author of Lolita (Nabokov). Barb finds notes for a book and the story takes off.
Some far fetched incidents, underdeveloped characters, but still really quite funny in spots.
Was a fast read, so you're not o
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Beth
Jul 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
"How many women do we know who just stay in a marriage such as Barb's was to the experson? Yet, Barb has the courage to walk away. True, she may not have thought to closely on the consequences of her actions and flounders for a time. I thought through her voice you could hear when she became responsible for her future and the outcome she desired. The steps she takes to that end are a little unconventional, but every one is different in how they deal with things. I was unsure of story at first, b ...more
Krysia
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, arc-galley
The first few chapters about her marital problems with the experson were quite funny. The novel ended up being much different from what the description on the book's cover led me to believe it would be, particularly concerning Nabokov.
Linda
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Might have been good timing after some heavier reading but I thought charming and made me smile many times. Example:

"He gave a plosive little gaelic pluff which could have meant 'piss off' or 'I might sleep with you if you wore better shoes'.
Judy
Apr 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had a fun time reading this incredibly improbable story. I liked that it was supposed to take place in Ithaca NY and that the fictitious university was supposed to be Cornell. Two of my children, a daughter-in-law and my husband are alums. Reality must be suspended; it was a fun read.
Norma
Feb 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: firstreads-won
Barb Barrett is recently divorced, a total mess, and at first hard to like. As the book progresses she takes an unusual path to get her life back together. The journey is comedic, Barb is gutsy, and the trip is wild. I won this book in a Firstreads give away.
S.M.
Jul 04, 2016 rated it did not like it
another whiny book about a divorced (co dependent and underqualified) woman who gets the wrong end of the stick.
Julie
Apr 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What started out as a charming and promising book, quickly took a wrong turn as the main character desides to open a male cathouse to service the bored women of the town. Don't bother.
Mary
Jun 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: it is a "chick" read, I would say.
Recommended to Mary by: Caitlin Loehr
Shelves: fiction
So funny! Chuckles, chortles, chuckles, snorts, this book is so funny. Thank you, Leslie Daniels! More, more!
Kim
Dec 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book took some unexpected turns for me. i didn't exactly love her portrayal of upstate NY moms . . . me being one myself. It was an ok read. A romance in disguise.
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