Almost too excited

The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller
When a new Sue Miller book shows up on the scene, I get all excited—and then a wee bit worried, thinking, “What if I don’t adore this one?” Happily, happily! I’ve never been disappointed.
Here’s another fine book that will keep me thinking about the characters and their lives for months if not years. (In my world, this is one of the best things that can happen after reading a book.)
One thing I didn’t expect: there are four different characters’ viewpoints here, and each is presented in its own section. I had a temporary feeling of disruption when the first section ended with a shift of viewpoint to another character (I swear, my brain hollers, “Hey, wait a minute!”)—but as with all books written by authors who know what they’re doing, I was settled back into the story within a page or two.
The story revolves around a play that connects the lives of the four primary characters. The play sounds like it would be perfect for a book discussion (a play discussion?) because of the complexity of the main character’s emotional response (or lack thereof) to the news that his wife likely has died in a terrorist attack. So, if the story-within-the-story is darn discussible, just think of discussing the whole book. This is a good one.
The four characters are:
Leslie (middle-aged, semi-retired woman; married to Pierce; sister of Gus)
Billy (playwright; former lover of Gus, who died in the 9/11 attack)
Sam (architect; old friend of Leslie’s, whom Leslie is setting up with Billy)
and Rafe (actor who plays the main character—Billy’s alter ego—in the play; married to Lauren, who has Lou Gehrig’s disease)
There’s all the messiness of everyday life (which, undoubtedly, is evident from my clumsy character list above), plus the high-stakes emotional stuff that makes a book worth reading.
In other words, it’s a Sue Miller novel. Rejoice.

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