Our Lady of the Prairie: Book summary and reviews of Our Lady of the Prairie by Thisbe Nissen

Our Lady of the Prairie

by Thisbe Nissen

Our Lady of the Prairie by Thisbe Nissen X
Our Lady of the Prairie by Thisbe Nissen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Publishes in USA 
    Jan 23, 2018
    384 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises - and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself.

In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad - long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter - grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny's wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband.

Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage.

Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election,Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp - a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"With humor, grace, and honesty, Nissen's three heroines ride an emotional roller coaster as they reconcile their respective pasts, ride out a turbulent present, and, hopefully, secure a more serene future." - Booklist

"Nissen (Out of the Girls' Room and Into the Night) relies too heavily on authorial gymnastics in her latest, which explores what happens in middle-aged theater professor Phillipa Maakestad's life after she falls in love and decides to blow up her marriage." - Publishers Weekly

"Investigating dysfunction and cynicism with humor, Nissen (Osprey Island) writes a descriptive novel filled with vulnerable and complicated characters who are often all too human." - Library Journal

"Thisbe Nissen's Our Lady of the Prairie is a Midwestern fever dream, a bold and ambitious look into the roiling emotions of a woman caught between should and could, between I must and I want. I found it funny, angry, hopeful, heartfelt, and above all, honest: about marriage, family, and that old-fashioned, endlessly fascinating thing called desire." - Joshua Ferris, author of Then We Came to the End and The Dinner Party

"I've been a Thisbe Nissen fan since page one of The Good People of New York. And now, loyalty rewarded! Our Lady of the Prairie delivers this wonderful author's characteristic wit, layered with delicious dysfunction, - poignancy, and heart." - Elinor Lipman, author of On Turpentine Lane

"Our Lady of the Prairie is a tumultuous romp, both cautionary and liberating. A mystery winds its way through these pages, as Thisbe Nissen explores marriage, lust, midlife crises and motherhood, crafting complex portraits not only of her characters but also of the land they inhabit; and, one thing is clear, this novel was written in praise of the prairie itself." - Julianna Baggott, author of Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of Wonders

The information about Our Lady of the Prairie shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Becky S. (Springfield, MO)

Guilty pleasures
I truly feel guilty for enjoying this book about a 50 plus married woman's new love affair...I was happy for Phillipa that she fell madly in love with Lucious... I think we all would love to have that kind of fairy tale romance, and sex like a couple of teenagers. I am sorry it was at the expense of her husband, Michael. The characters in this book are rich and so interesting.. the mentally I'll daughter, the Amish in-laws, the mother in law with all the secrets. It was just a good read that was hard to put down. I look forward to reading more by this author!

Dorothy M. (Maynard, MA)

Turn out women can have a mid-life crisis too!
Written with a keen wit and clever turn of phrase, Thisbe Nissen's Our Lady of the Prairie looks at what happens when a 50 year old woman with a life that looks like it will finally be stable after years of upheaval with a very challenged daughter discovers the "love of her life" and jumps into an affair with all the enthusiasm of a teenager who has just discovered sex. Set in Ohio during the campaign for George W. Bush's second term, the personal chaos that Professor Phillipa Maakestad creates is reflected in the division of the country and the author gives us a few hints of what is coming. Since some of the fall out from Phillipa's destruction of her long term marriage is fairly sad, I felt a bit guilty enjoying this book as much as I did but I did.

Jennie R. (Highland, CA)

Mixed feelings...
I loved parts of this novel, and disliked other parts. Phillipa was so, so everything! She was not a character I could feel sympathy for...much too selfish, but part of me sort of fell in love with her anyway...I applauded her honesty. But, while she was aware of her weaknesses, she didn't seem inclined to do anything about them. I thought the insertion of her whole dreamt-up life of Bernadette dragged on too long and wish she'd wrapped it up faster. Overall, I enjoyed this book though and plan to look for this author's other work.

Donna W

Main protagonists were sympathetic and real, however...
I was hooked by the first third of the story; no segue to part two, and found this section to be almost textbook for the time (WWII)... However, it all came together during the last section.

Having said that, I found myself wanting to walk away after part two. Up to that point, the book seemed like it was a collection of short stories.

I rated it 4 stars due to the fact that the use of language was top notch, but there wasn't a lot of substance to keep me hooked.

Jane H. (Prospect, KY)

Our Lady of the Prairie
Loved, loved the writer's command of the English language and wry approach to what life threw her way. I will definitely read other books by her. In this specific book, I felt she led with a strong first third of the story, began to seriously lag in the middle, but rallied a bit in the last third of the storyline. In other words, lost my interest through the middle of the book. The beautiful writing pulled me through and caused me to give this a 4.

Priscilla M. (Houston, TX)

A whirlwind of a story
I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this book. The author relates every thought that passes through the main character's head. Phillipa is constantly thinking, weighing, supposing, and imagining. It must be exhausting to be Phillipa. Having said that, the author does draw you into the midlife crisis Phil is experiencing and weaves that into her complicated family life with her estranged husband, unstable daughter, bitter mother-in-law and the irresistible lover with whom she fell madly, inexplicably in love with at first glance. Once I got used to the fast pace and the barrage of mental processes, I realized that there are parts of the story that every reader to can relate to. Who among us does not fantasize about escaping to Paris for a romantic interlude? Don't all of us wish for a solid, stable life for our children and a close circle of friends? Phil is a good mom and a good friend, but it took a whirlwind of events to bring her to that realization. Fasten your seatbelts for the ride! There are weddings, funerals, road trips, colorful characters, and vivid slices of life in store for you with this book.

...8 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Information

More Information

Thisbe Nissen is the author of a story collection, Out of the Girls' Room and into the Night, and two novels, The Good People of New York and Osprey Island. Her fiction has been published in the Iowa Review and the American Scholar, among others, and her nonfiction has appeared in Vogue, Glamour, and elsewhere. She teaches at Western Michigan University and lives in Battle Creek, Michigan with her husband, writer Jay Baron Nicorvo, and their son.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: La Belle Sauvage
    La Belle Sauvage
    by Philip Pullman
    Voted 2017 Best Young Adult Novel by BookBrowse's Subscribers

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect ...
  • Book Jacket: Leonardo da Vinci
    Leonardo da Vinci
    by Walter Isaacson
    The name Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most recognized in all of Western history, and his ...
  • Book Jacket: The Immortalists
    The Immortalists
    by Chloe Benjamin
    On a summer day in 1969 in New York City, the Gold children agree to seek out a mysterious ...
  • Book Jacket: The Kites
    The Kites
    by Romain Gary, Miranda Richmond Mouillot
    Published by New Directions for the first time in English, Romain Gary's The Kites tells a story of ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

A story that is at once quirky, charming, heartbreaking, suspenseful and poignant.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Days When Birds Come Back
    by Deborah Reed

    A graceful testament to endurance, rebuilding, and the possibilities of coming home.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Mothers of Sparta

Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir

A dazzling literary memoir with shades of Mary Karr, Anne Lamott and Jenny Lawson.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A J O A Thousand M B W O S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.