Elevate Difference

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

What molding and stretching is required of a woman who chooses to better the quality of life of others over her own? Perhaps this type of self-sacrifice cannot be fathomed from the outside in. To be the devoted wife, the doting mother, the gracious hostess, the caring friend—where and when does she find the time to find herself?

Within in her sharply defined world, Pippa Lee is everything to everyone who matters to her—to Herb, her husband thirty years her senior and a prominent publisher; to her grown children, twins; and to a small circle of friends, New York writers and artists. She has no visible past or plans for the future. Ever adaptable, Pippa sees only placid days spent catering to Herb as they live out the golden years of their marriage in the Marigold Village retirement community.

When Pippa wakes up to find that she has been tearing through the kitchen, smearing food around the dining room, picking up smoking again, and even driving to the convenience store all while fast sleep, her sure footing in life begins to falter. The destabilization of her environment and her youthful isolation in a sea of retirees lead her to revisit defining moments from her previous life, before Herb and their seemingly perfect marriage.

What begins as a one-dimensional character study of the archetypal Mother/Wife figure transforms into a richly drawn portrait of a complex, often complicated life. When the unexpected throws Pippa off her increasingly shaky track, she is set loose from the existence she had trained herself to relish; in that moment, her character vibrates with newfound vitality and possibility, and the story itself is elevated to a new level of being. Through intimately detailed and poignant vignettes from Pippa’s past and surprising twists from her present, Rebecca Miller constructs a deftly layered and moving novel of a woman’s journey to herself. The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a subtly and emotionally crafted read for anyone who has ever wondered, “How did I get here? And where do I go now?”

Written by: Kelly Moritz, November 28th 2008

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