Wit's End: Book summary and reviews of Wit's End by Karen Joy Fowler

Wit's End

A Novel

by Karen Joy Fowler

Wit's End
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2008
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Set in contemporary Santa Cruz, Wit’s End opens as Rima Lanisell arrives at her godmother’s old Victorian mansion, weary from her recent losses—an inventive if at times irritating father, a beloved brother. (Indeed, Rima seems to lose people and things habitually—sunglasses and keys, lovers and family members.) At loose ends, she has come to coastal California to regroup and to meet that legendary godmother. She soon finds herself enmeshed in a household of eccentrics: a formerly alcoholic cook and her irksome son, two quirky dog-walkers, a mysterious stalker, and of course, godmother Addison Early, a secretive and feisty bestselling mystery writer who once knew Rima’s father well. Perhaps too well. Rima is on a mission to discover just what their relationship was all about.

That won’t be easy. Over the years, Addison has fought fiercely to protect her work and her privacy, even as her passionate fans have become ever more intrusive. In this age of the Internet, with its blogs, chat rooms, and websites, its Wikipedia, false personas, and hidden identities, those fans have begun to take over her plotlines and the life of her famous fictional detective. For many of those fans, Maxwell Lane is more real than Addison herself. So Wit’s End is also a highly original take on they way dedicated readers appropriate their favorite books, perhaps the one act of theft applauded the world over—except by authors. Word has it that Addison is so beleaguered, so distracted by her fans’ Web postings, that she has writers block.

Traveling back into the past, firmly rooted in the present, Wit’s End is storytelling at its best. It is also Karen Joy Fowler at her most subversive and witty, creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is utterly and memorably her own.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"As Fowler analyzes our modern-day relationship to novels and writers' relationship to their readers, the line between fiction and reality blurs - real people become characters in another's blog as fictional characters become real to the fans that fetishize them." - Publishers Weekly.

"One of the most refreshing things about Fowler's witty novel is its currency. At one point, Addison remarks that today's novels are unreliable guides to daily life since no one in them watches television. Indeed, Fowler's own characters write blogs, read message boards, watch YouTube, and consult (and even edit) Wikipedia. This insightful and engaging book is recommended for all public and academic libraries." - Library Journal.

"Only astute readers will wade through the sometimes annoying barrage of disjointed, quirky twists to find the hints planted .... A prickly, computer-age take on the mystery genre ..... Fowler's clever insights eventually sink in as more profound than they initially seemed." - Kirkus Reviews.

"She has a voice like no other, lyrical, shrewd and addictive, with a quiet deadpan humor that underlies almost every sentence." - Newsday - Beth Gutcheon.

"What strikes one first is the voice: robust, sly, witty, elegant, unexpected and never boring. Here is a novelist who absolutely comprehends the pleasures of imagination and transformation." - The New York Times Book Review - Margot Livesey

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Author Information

Karen Joy Fowler Author Biography

Karen Joy Fowler was born in February 1950 in Bloomington, Indiana where her father was a professor of psychology. She says "Bloomington lives in my mind as a sort of Oz-like place where I caught fireflies and watched lightning and ran around. None of the yards were fenced, so we could play games that covered massive amounts of territory." When she was 11 her family moved to Palo Alto, California.

She majored in political science at the University of California at Berkeley and had her first baby at twenty-three during the last year of her master's program (at the University of Davis). After completing her master degree she entered what she refers to as her 'child-rearing years' - until the age of 30 when she started to feel restless and took a dance class to reclaim ...

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