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About the book
  • Published: 3 December 2007
  • ISBN: 9780099484998
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $19.99
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When She Was Good




An early novel from Philip Roth, exploring the effects of alcoholism on a family.

In this mesmerizing, funny, chilling novel. the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, the subject the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman. When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate.

  • Pub date: 3 December 2007
  • ISBN: 9780099484998
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Philip Roth

Philip Roth was born in Newark, New Jersey on 19 March 1933. The second child of second-generation Americans, Bess and Herman Roth, Roth grew up in the largely Jewish community of Weequahic, a neighbourhood he was to return to time and again in his writing. After graduating from Weequahic High School in 1950, he attended Bucknell University, Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago, where he received a scholarship to complete his M.A. in English Literature.

In 1959, Roth published Goodbye, Columbus – a collection of stories, and a novella – for which he received the National Book Award. Ten years later, the publication of his fourth novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, brought Roth both critical and commercial success, firmly securing his reputation as one of America’s finest young writers. Roth was the author of thirty-one books, including those that were to follow the fortunes of Nathan Zuckerman, and a fictional narrator named Philip Roth, through which he explored and gave voice to the complexities of the American experience in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries.

Roth’s lasting contribution to literature was widely recognised throughout his lifetime, both in the US and abroad. Among other commendations he was the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the International Man Booker Prize, twice the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, and presented with the National Medal of Arts and the National Humanities Medal by Presidents Clinton and Obama, respectively.

Philip Roth died on 22 May 2018 at the age of eighty-five having retired from writing six years previously.

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Praise for When She Was Good

“High, careful tragedy, nasty as life, and Roth emerges...as a Dreiser who can write!”

Stanley Elkin

“Roth is a living master”

Harold Bloom, New York Review of Books

“Compassion mingles with horror in a superb portrayal of a young woman's obsession with moral rectitude”

Saturday Review


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