Summary and book reviews of Big City Eyes by Delia Ephron

Big City Eyes

A Novel

by Delia Ephron

Big City Eyes
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2000, 227 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2001, 256 pages

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Book Summary

The story of a woman's attempt to deal with passion, guilt, murder, and motherhood.

In a state of near panic because of the nighttime activities of her teenage son, Lily Davis decides to uproot herself and Sam from Manhattan to Sakonnet Bay, a small Long Island town, where presumably the opportunities for trouble and grief are less available. She becomes a reporter for the weekly paper, Sam enrolls in high school, and for at least a few weeks life proceeds as expected. Then, through unexpected and unnerving circumstances, she spies a naked woman asleep in a summer house. And everything changes. There is a murder. Or is there? And there is a man. But he is married, and Lily is filled with guilt-about her own divorce. Friendship and love relationships unravel, or threaten to. Are people and events as they seem, or is Lily just perceiving her small town through big-city eyes?

"Gentle humor and deadpan observation," said The Boston Globe of Hanging Up. "Ephron handles her characters with a deft, delicate touch." Delia Ephron has become known for her subtle ability to mix wit and sensitivity. In this book, she outdoes herself, with quirky Lily Davis, a big-city woman attempting to make sense of small-town life.

I moved to Sakonnet Bay to save Sam. I woke up with the idea. It had been one of those problem-solving nights. Having fallen asleep in a state of intense distress, I awakened with the notion that if I uprooted my life for three years, I could avert disaster.

I'm a journalist, a small-time, freelance magazine writer, and there is no telephone number I can't wheedle out of someone, no tidbit I can't unearth. If the front door is locked, I know how to sneak in the back. Now I would simply apply my creative doggedness to the problem of keeping my teenage son safe.

Once I made this decision, I rented a car and drove out of Manhattan. I felt virtuous, even noble. I turned on the radio and was able to listen. For the first time in weeks my mind was at rest, which is to say lying in wait for the moment when it could become agitated once again. Agitation is normal for me, calm is unexpected. I veer toward agitation, list naturally in its direction. Taking action, almost any ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. How do Lily's "big city eyes" deceive her when she first arrives in Sakonnet Bay? How does her opinion of this sleepy village change over the course of the novel?
  2. What do you think Lily's life was like in Manhattan? Do you think Sam is the only one who needs saving?
  3. Lily finds the natural world around her threatening. Can you relate with her concerns and anxieties? What is your opinion of the vast night sky?
  4. Lily is tortured by the fear that her son is a freak and she is to blame. How much responsibility do parents bear for their children's behavior? Where and how do you draw the line?
  5. Lily tells Tom that she and Sam matter too much to each other. Do you think ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

USA Today - Catherine Captain

The trademark Ephron mixture of tenderness and humor makes Big City Eyes a delightful escape.

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo

Ephron's always readable prose moves nicely between observant, wisecracking humor and an atmospheric creepiness.

Publishers Weekly

Lily learns she can't safeguard her son merely by shielding him from big-city dangers. The road to this hard-earned lesson takes the reader through a novel that sparkles with lively characters.

Kirkus Reviews

Good, clean, lighthearted fun with a moral ending.

Booklist

Ephron combines drugs, deer, coworkers, and gossip in a frenetic mix that shows country life to be in sharp contrast to Lily's city-dwelling expectations of peace and tranquility. Ultimately, people end up where they belong in this entertaining, if slightly silly, novel that reads like a movie concept.

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