Unfinished Desires: Book summary and reviews of Unfinished Desires by Gail Godwin

Unfinished Desires

A Novel

by Gail Godwin

Unfinished Desires
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2010
    416 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel's, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls' young teacher and the school's matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel.

Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even further to her own senior year at the school, where the roots of a tragedy are buried.

In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations–and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.  

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A strong story populated by a host of memorable characters - smart, satisfying fiction, one of the author's best in years." - Kirkus Reviews

"Poignant and transporting, this faux memoir makes a convincing, satisfying novel." - Publishers Weekly

"The promise of uncovering Mother Ravenel's involvement in a past incident of seeming import to one of the families lures the reader on, but the denouement, though tragic, reveals little motivation beyond schoolgirl pettiness." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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Alison

Slow reading
This novel was slow to engage my interest. I doggedly persevered out of sheer will, because I, too, went to an all girls school. I prefer Godwin's short stories. I'm sad to say I won't recommend this to my fellow reader friends.

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Author Information

Gail Godwin Author Biography

© John Kleinhans

Gail Godwin is a three-time National Book Award nominee and the bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels, including A Mother and Two Daughters, Violet Clay, Father Melancholy's Daughter, Evensong, The Good Husband, Evenings at Five, The Making of a Writer, Volumes 1 and 2, Unfinished Desires and Flora.

She worked briefly as a reporter for the Miami Herald, and then traveled to Europe and worked for the U.S. Travel Service at the U.S. Embassy in London. She returned to the U.S. after six years, and attended the University of Iowa, earning her M.A. (1968) from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and PhD (1971) in English Literature.

She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for both fiction and libretto writing, and the Award in Literature from...

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