Rebecca's Reviews > The Portable Veblen

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie
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really liked it
bookshelves: read-via-netgalley, reviewed-bookbrowse, twee, laugh-out-loud

Veblen, named after the late-nineteenth-century Norwegian-American economist, is one of the oddest heroines you’ll ever meet. She thinks squirrels are talking to her and kisses flowers. But McKenzie doesn’t just play Veblen for laughs; she makes her a believable character well aware of her own psychological backstory. I suspect the squirrel material could be a potential turn-off for readers who can’t handle too much whimsy. Over-the-top silly in places, this is nonetheless a serious account of the difficulty of Veblen and Paul, her neurology researcher fiancé, blending their dysfunctional families and different ideologies – which is what marriage is all about.

Non-subscribers can read an excerpt of my review at BookBrowse.

(See also Elizabeth McKenzie’s Top 10 Squirrels in Literature list.)
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Reading Progress

September 16, 2015 – Shelved
September 16, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
November 3, 2015 – Shelved as: read-via-netgalley
November 3, 2015 – Shelved as: reviewed-bookbrowse
December 4, 2015 – Started Reading
December 5, 2015 – Finished Reading
December 7, 2015 – Shelved as: twee
December 7, 2015 – Shelved as: laugh-out-loud

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Debbie I've almost finished this one; just loving it. Will be curious to hear what you think. What's the verdict so far?


Rebecca I wasn't so sure to start with -- it seemed too cutesy-quirky for me -- but I ended up really enjoying it! Bizarre, but good.


message 3: by Angela M (new)

Angela M Probably a little too bizarre for me but good review.


Rebecca Thanks, Angela!


Esil I didn't like it as much as you did Rebecca, but I love the idea of a Top 10 Squirrels in Literature list


Rebecca I was amazed she found 10 to feature!!


message 7: by Cecily (new)

Cecily "Top 10 Squirrels in Literature"! It wouldn't have occurred to me there were ten in total! Learn something every day.


Debbie Great review, Rebecca. I loved this sentence:
"But McKenzie doesn’t just play Veblen for laughs; she makes her a believable character well aware of her own psychological backstory."
I think her self-awareness and self-analysis were big plusses for me. I gave it a 4 too.

And thanks for including the link to the Books with Squirrels list. Super interesting. And I'm with Cecily. Who knew there are ten books that feature squirrels. Just bizarre, and a kick!


Rebecca Thanks, Debbie! I was pleasantly surprised by this book -- I suspected it would be too quirky for me, but McKenzie managed to balance out the silliness with some serious observations about how families and marriages work.


Lesley Moseley YES these comments fit very well wit the sadness these humans 'bump' each other with. Bruises that last a lifetime, and shape out learned responses.


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