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The Philosopher's Apprentice Summary and Reviews

The Philosopher's Apprentice

A Novel

by James Morrow

The Philosopher's Apprentice by James Morrow X
The Philosopher's Apprentice by James Morrow
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  • Published Mar 2008
    432 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

A brilliant philosopher with a talent for self-destruction, Mason Ambrose has torpedoed a promising academic career and now faces a dead-end future. Before joining the ranks of the unemployed, however, he's approached by a representative of billionaire geneticist Dr. Edwina Sabacthani, who makes him an offer no starving ethicist could refuse. Born and bred on Isla de Sangre, a private island off the Florida coast, Edwina's beautiful and intelligent adolescent daughter, Londa, has recently survived a freak accident that destroyed both her memory and her sense of right and wrong. Londa's soul, in short, is an empty vessel - and it will be Mason's job to fill it.

Exploring his new surroundings, our hero encounters a lush Eden abounding in bizarre animals and strange vegetation engineered by Edwina and her misanthropic collaborator, Dr. Vincent Charnock. And Londa, though totally lacking a conscience, proves a vivacious young woman who quickly captivates her new teacher as he attempts to recalibrate her moral compass with the help of Western civilization's greatest ethical thinkers, living and dead.

But there's trouble in this tropical paradise. Mason soon learns that he isn't the only private tutor on Isla de Sangre, nor is Londa the only child in residence whose conscience is a blank slate. How many daughters does Edwina Sabacthani really have, and how did she bring them into being?

Undaunted by these mysteries, Mason continues to instruct Londa, hoping that she can lead a normal life when she eventually ventures forth into human society. His apprentice, however, has a different agenda. Her head crammed with lofty ideals, her heart brimming with fearsome benevolence, and her bank account filled to bursting, Londa undertakes to remake our fallen world in her own image—by any and all means necessary.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"'Try withholding your judgment till you've grasped the broader picture,' Londa advises .... A salutary caution for readers of this wildly ambitious morality play, a shrewd amalgamation of the sacred and the profane." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Aristotle is referred to so often in this brilliant comedy of manners as to seem to be alive .... How can a novel so loaded with ideas be so funny and consistently engrossing?" - Library Journal.

"Morrow guides readers through preposterous plot points without sacrificing plausibility. Strong characters, shots of humor and an unpredictable narrative make this a winner." - Publishers Weekly.

"Morrow’s inventiveness is beguiling, as are his delight in Western philosophy and his concern for the sorry state of the world. Yet there’s also something comic-bookish about his novel, with its rapid succession of climactic moments, its abundant references to pop culture, its reliance on the strikingly visual and its first-person narration, which has the inflections not of a failed graduate student but of a Los Angeles gumshoe." - The New York Times.

"Novelist James Morrow addresses controversial topics in The Philosopher's Apprentice without being heavy-handed, and infuses the narrative with a wit that pragmatists and idealists alike will appreciate. A-." - Entertainment Weekly.

This information about The Philosopher's Apprentice was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

James Morrow Author Biography

David Tait

Born in Philadelphia in 1947, James Morrow spent his teenage years in Hillside Cemetery, not far from Philadelphia. After receiving degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, Morrow began to produce prose fiction. His first such endeavor, The Wine of Violence, was called “the best SF novel published in English in the last ten years” by the American Book Review. He followed this with The Continent of Lies. Morrow's breakout novel was a satire on the nuclear arms race, This Is the Way the World Ends, which became a Nebula Award nominee and the BBC’s choice as the best SF novel of the year. His next dark comedy, Only Begotten Daughter, shared the 1991 World Fantasy Award with Ellen Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer. Throughout the 1990s Morrow worked on ...

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