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From “America’s librarian” and NPR books commentator Nancy Pearl comes an emotional, “Anne-Tyler-esque” (Library Journal) debut novel about an unlikely marriage at a crossroads.
George and Lizzie are a couple, meeting as college students and marrying soon after graduation, but no one would ever describe them of being soulmates. George grew up in a warm and loving family—his father an orthodontist, his mother a stay-at-home mom—while Lizzie was the only child of two famous psychologists, who viewed her more as an in-house experiment than a child to love.
After a decade of marriage, nothing has changed—George is happy; Lizzie remains…unfulfilled. But when George discovers that Lizzie has been searching for the whereabouts of an old boyfriend, Lizzie is forced to decide what love means to her, what George means to her, and whether her life with George is the one she wants.
With pitch-perfect prose and compassion and humor to spare, George and Lizzie is “a richly absorbing portrait of a perfectly imperfect marriage,” (Amy Poeppel, author of Small Admissions), and “a story of forgiveness, especially for one’s self” (The Washington Post).
Librarian and NPR commentator Pearl has made a living recommending great books; in this debut novel about love, regret, and forgiveness she tries her hand at fiction with mixed results. Her heroine is Lizzie, the only child of two famous but emotionally distant psychologists who use Lizzie to test their theories. Against the backdrop of this loveless childhood, Lizzie embarks on the "Great Game" of sleeping with every starter on the high school football team, but her attention-seeking efforts fail to generate anything more than negative voices in her head and a deep-seated self-hatred. When later her lust-filled relationship with college classmate Jack falls apart, Lizzie worries the Great Game is to blame. In steps George, a dental student with a "marshmallow" heart who wants nothing more than to make Lizzie happy. But even after Lizzie and George say "I do," Lizzie finds herself pining for Jack. Pearl doesn't give readers enough time to witness the deepening of George and Lizzie's relationship for it to be convincing, and at times the characters seem out of step with the realities of 1990s-era early adulthood. Still, the path George and Lizzie's relationship takes toward wholeness points to truths about the way people self-sabotage, the complexity of love, and the importance of being able to let go of the past.