Summary and book reviews of Playing Botticelli by Liza Nelson

Playing Botticelli

by Liza Nelson

Playing Botticelli by Liza Nelson X
Playing Botticelli by Liza Nelson
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2000, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2001, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Liza Nelson captures that pivotal time when a parent's power to shape and shield her child is drawing to an end.

In her vibrant and wise novel, Liza Nelson captures that pivotal time when a parent's power to shape and shield her child is drawing to an end.

The year is 1986, when airport terrorism, serial killers, and Iran-Contra have put most of the population into a collective funk. But artist Godiva Blue feels safe. A refugee from the late sixties, self-proclaimed visionary, and "lady janitor" at the local elementary school, Godiva believes she has found a haven for herself and her daughter, Dylan, in the backwaters of northwest Florida. Then, on a casual trip to the post office, Godiva glances at the FBI most-wanted poster and recognizes the face of the man with whom she conceived Dylan during an antiwar rally. Meanwhile, at fifteen Dylan is chafing under her mother's overwhelming personality. When she discovers the poster that Godiva had hidden in a rare moment of self-doubt, Dylan begins to build a fantasy future centered on reuniting with her father, setting her--and Godiva's--course.

Chapter One
August 28, 1986

Well, this summer is over. Kaput. Finis. Down the tubes. Extinct. All gone. The end.

As far as I'm concerned, anyway.

It shut like a book this afternoon. One minute I was full of August, easing my way down Highway 12, windows down, music blasting, the hot wind whipping in thick ribbons against my neck. The next minute I was chilled to the bone.

To the bone.

I'd been at work. The teachers come back for pre-planning in a week, and I want no hassles from middle-aged women having nervous breakdowns because their chalkboards are dusty or their windows won't open. Life is too short and art is too long. Being a janitor - excuse me, custodian - is not exactly my life's work. I am an artist first, but I have to earn a living. If I were by myself it would be one thing, but with a daughter to feed, clothe, educate and all the rest, I've had to make my compromises, though fewer than most people, I'm glad to say. Bourgeois excuse, someone would have ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

"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 ...

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!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Library Journal
The major problem with this first novel is that Nelson can't quite make up her mind whether the plot centers on a child's search for her father or the generation gap between a hippie mother and her more conservative daughter.

Publishers Weekly
The fertile depths of mother-daughter relationships are plumbed with sparkling humor and sharp-edged wisdom in Nelson's impressive debut.

Kirkus Reviews
A rambling and good-natured debut novel that follows a young woman as she takes to the road in search of the father she never knew. Adolescence is a tough time for just about everybody, but when your mother is an ex-flower child who conceived you on a commune, you're going to suffer an extra complex or two.... Can a daughter's love defeat history? Sharp, likable, and nicely paced, Nelson writes with a light touch and a sharp eye.

Author Blurb Pat Conroy
Playing Botticelli is one of those wonderful novels that treat the mother-daughter relationship for what it is part mine field, part love nest.

Author Blurb Anne Lamott
Liza Nelson is a terrific writer, and these are wonderful characters.

Author Blurb Pam Durban
A tough, tender, and unabashed meditation on the joys and dangers of motherhood and the longings of a daughter for her father. Elegant, moving, and true.

Reader Reviews

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!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Playing Botticelli, try these:

  • Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu jacket

    Massachusetts, California, Timbuktu

    by Stephanie Rosenfeld

    Published 2004

    About this book

    Smart and poignant, charming and witty this is a wonderful debut novel, a mother-daughter story that proves it's always those who give you the most trouble that end up getting access to the purest part of your heart.

  • The Yokota Officers Club jacket

    The Yokota Officers Club

    by Sarah Bird

    Published 2002

    About this book

    More books by this author

    'Who else can write about dancing, music, JP-4 fuel, the military, and strawberries, make it funny, and also make it about matters of the heart? Only Sarah Bird. This is her best book yet, a big book that you'll want to read again as soon as you finish it the first time.'

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
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: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...
  • Book Jacket: Memories of the Future
    Memories of the Future
    by Siri Hustvedt
    I've never kept a journal, but my mother has written in hers for years, the annual volumes she's ...
  • Book Jacket: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
    Rajeev Balasubramanyam encapsulates the theme of Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss in its first ...
  • Book Jacket: The Workshop and the World
    The Workshop and the World
    by Robert P. Crease
    The longest glacier in France, the Mer de Glace, is losing roughly 12 feet of ice height each year. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Affairs of the Falcóns
    by Melissa Rivero

    A beautiful, urgent novel about the lengths one woman is willing to go to build a new life.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Fly Girls
by Keith O'Brien

How five daring women defied all odds and made aviation history.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Ecstasy

Win copies to share with friends or your book club!

Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & 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 the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.