Excerpt from Private Life by Jane Smiley, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Private Life

by Jane Smiley

Private Life by Jane Smiley X
Private Life by Jane Smiley
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2010, 336 pages
    Jun 2011, 336 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Jennifer G Wilder

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

And Margaret felt herself almost say, Me, too. But she didn’t know how to say it, because she hardly knew, even as old as she was, what person she had been.

The teakettle was whistling in the kitchen, but they wouldn’t be drinking any tea. Pete, staring at the coots, leaned forward with an intent look on his face, and the whistle of the kettle rose in pitch, as if in desperation. She said, You take it. I want you to take it.

He stood straight up and looked at her, refusal written on his face, but then he relented. His smile came on slowly, and he kissed her on the forehead. She stepped forward, took the picture, and placed it in his hands. It wasn’t terribly large, though it had always seemed to be. She said, The teakettle is going to burn up.

While she was in the kitchen, Stella entered through the dog door, her tail wagging, but Margaret went out without greeting her, and closed her in the kitchen. In the hall, Pete had his hat on, the picture under his arm. She walked him the step or two to the door and opened it. As he went out onto the porch, he pressed her hand.

Thank you, he said, then again, thank you.

She stood on her porch and watched him walk to his car, get in, and, with a wave, drive away.

Excerpted from Private Life by Jane Smiley. Copyright © 2010 by Jane Smiley. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Winter
    by Ali Smith
    "God was dead; to begin with." This first sentence of Winter perfectly sets up the dreamy journey ...
  • Book Jacket: A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    A Land of Permanent Goodbyes
    by Atia Abawi

    When you're a refugee, everyone has lost, at least for the time being... And the journey ...

  • Book Jacket: Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Eat the Apple
    Eat the Apple
    by Matt Young
    Truth is stranger than fiction. Matt Young's memoir tackles the space in between truth and ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Sometimes I Lie
    by Alice Feeney

    This brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something a lie if you believe it's the truth?
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano

    A charming, bighearted novel starring Auntie Poldi, Sicily's newest amateur sleuth.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Balcony

The Balcony
by Jane Delury

A century-spanning novel-in-stories of a French village brimming with compassion, natural beauty, and unmistakable humanity.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One N U G

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & 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.