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"This is one of those wonderful novels that treats
the mother-daughter relationship for what it is - part
minefield, part love nest."
- Pat Conroy
Liza Nelson's debut novel tells the story of Godiva Blue, an artist, single
mother, and self-proclaimed visionary, who believes she has found a haven for
herself and her daughter, Dylan, in the backwaters of northwest Florida in the
mid-eighties. A refugee of the late sixties, Godiva revels in a self-reliant
existence that allows her free reign of her eccentricities.
But Godiva, who has buried pieces of her past, discovers that she cannot handpick the parts of her life that she would prefer to box away. On a casual trip to the post office, she glances at the FBI most wanted poster and recognizes the face of the man with whom she conceived Dylan while attending an antiwar rally sixteen years earlier. Meanwhile, a combination of pride and chance keep Godiva from recognizing that fifteen-year-old Dylan is chafing under her mother's overwhelming personality. When Dylan discovers the poster, which Godiva has taken and hidden in a rare moment of self-doubt, she begins to build a fantasy centered on reuniting with a father she has never met, setting her - and Godiva's - course.
Beginning with Godiva's point of view, then alternating throughout the novel with Dylan's perspective, Playing Botticelli offers the frank and funny juxtaposition of a mother's vision of the world with her daughter's reality. Through their individual voices, Nelson movingly explores motherhood and daughterhood, the ties that bind as well as those that must bend and even break.
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Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Berkley Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.
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