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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.

Reviews

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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Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9781407018690

    August 1, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    352 pages

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  • Paperback

    9780099484998

    December 3, 2007

    Vintage

    320 pages

    RRP $19.99

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