The Lake Shore Limited Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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“Ms. Miller not only conveys the subjectivity of all experience but also succeeds in creating a haunting chamber-music piece with many different solos. . . . Its power grows from Ms. Miller’s intimate understanding of her characters . . . and from her Chekhovian understanding of missed connections, lost opportunities, and closely held memories that mutate slowly over time. . . . Ms. Miller gives us a knowing meditation upon the acts of alchemy and theft that constitute an artist’s work: a meditation that sheds light on her own craft, so meticulously showcased in this novel.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Miller’s exquisite new novel, The Lake Shore Limited, is so sophisticated and thoughtful that it should either help redeem the term ‘women’s literature’ or free her from it once and for all. . . . Gorgeously drawn and told with stark honesty. . . . Intellectual and emotional . . . profound and unsettling. . . . [A] miracle.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Quintessential Miller, touching on the themes that have animated her fiction for the past quarter-century: the potency of sex; the failure of men and women to understand each other; the hunger for a different life.”
—Ligaya Mishan, The New York Times Book Review
“Miller has written gripping novels that shrewdly tap the domestic zeitgeist. Lake Shore, set between snowy Vermont and brick-lined Boston, continues the trend, exploring the fragility of love—and life—in the post-9/11 era. . . . [A] play-within-the-novel adds a layer of complexity to Miller’s latest tale, another graceful, poignant romance that resonates with the times.”
—Joanna Powell, People
“With the surety of a master, Miller reveals the intersection of love and fate.”
“An ensemble novel about love, loss, and the discontents of middle age.”
—Elle (Fiction pick of the month, The Elle’s Lettres Readers Prize)
“An ambitious exploration of the interaction between choice and random chance in human relationships. . . . Miller raises tantalizing questions about the ethics of love.”
“Miller’s take on post-9/11 America is fascinating and perfectly balanced with her writerly meditations on the destructiveness of trauma and loss, and the creation and experience of art.”
“Expertly written, this novel plumbs the dark depths of grief and guilt but emerges into the light of self-forgiveness and freedom. Recommended.”
—Jyna Scheeren, Library Journal
“As the narrative among four different perspectives, Miller ever so slowly builds to a deeply affecting series of emotional revelations. Among the many heady themes Miller tackles—the joys and burdens of making art, the wish for a different, unencumbered life—is the relationships between men and women that elicit her most piercing insights and elegant turns of phrase. . . . An eloquent, layered meditation on the complexities of the human heart.”
—Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels The Senator’s Wife, Lost in the Forest, The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is a story hinging on a play penned by Wilhelmina "Billy Gertz, a complex figure who reflects emotions that many of us feel, anger, conflict, a desire for validation. Six years ago Gus, Billy's lover, was killed in a 9/11 plane crash. The couple had been cohabiting but Billy intended to end their relationship. Now, with Gus dead she's unwittingly placed into the position of being thought a tragic figure, a widow - sort of. After this length of time she is more than ready to move on.
Leslie, Gus's sister is unable or unwilling to do the same. She holds on to Billy, presumably either in memory of or to honor Gus, despite her husband's pleas to let go. In Boston, as the opening of Billy's play nears, Leslie issues an invitation she believes helpful - she invites Sam to meet Billy after the performance.
Billy's play concerns the terrorist bombing of a train as it pulls into Chicago's Union Station. A man is waiting to hear whether or not his estranged wife who was on the train managed to escape alive. A parallel between the way Billy waited for news of Gus? Of course. Rafe, the lead actor in the play delivers an astounding performance, only to be filled with regret that he has called upon the impending death of his wife to provide the tears he needs to shed on stage.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In "The Lake Shore Limited", the story is told from the point of view of four main characters. First we have Billy who is a playwright originally from Chicago. There is Leslie, the much older sister of Gus who is the man Billy lived with in Boston and Sam, who is a friend and neighbor of Leslie's. Finally, we have Rafe, the man playing the lead role in the play Billy has written about a man waiting to find out if his wife was on a train that was hit by a terrorist attack. All their stories become interwoven and the reader is allowed to come to know each one of them intimately and what their individual hurts and wounds are.
A beautifully written character study of mature adults (as it relates to age) who are reflecting back upon their lives and revisiting their life paths. How did they end up in the relationships they are in? What do they wish they had done differently over the years? What do they want from this point on? This is not an action-packed or quick, easy novel but one that should be savored along the way. For the older reader who has the perspective of time, this will definitely strike a chord. While sometimes these types of books can feel like navel-gazing, this one manages to be introspective without wallowing. It's more of an honest reflection of what is good and bad without much filter.
If you enjoy Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler, and Anna Quindlen, this novel would be a good one to try.
Leslie, Billy, Sam, and Rafe--their lives are forever altered.
Leslie is comfortably married to Pierce, but her loving connection to her brother Gus is a truly nurturing relationship. Childless, she has become almost like a mother to Gus, since she is fifteen years older.
Billy, a playwright, was Gus's live-in lover on that fateful day when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. What nobody knows is that she had already decided to leave Gus, so when he dies as a passenger in one of the planes, she feels like a fraud as she grieves for him.
Sam, an architect, who bought property when Leslie was selling real estate many years before, is now divorced; his first wife had died years before and his children, somewhat distant from him, are grown. Sam has harbored feelings for Leslie for many years.
Rafe, whose wife suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease, is an actor. He is one of the stars in Billy's newest play, called "The Lake Shore Limited"--a play about a terrorist act on a train that leaves people waiting for news of their loved ones, just as many did after 9/11.
These characters all connect at the beginning of Billy's play, and then for weeks and months afterwards, in various ways.
As the story unfolds, we get to view the interior lives of these characters, as sections are devoted to each one in turn. We see what motivates them, what they're worried about, and what they fear. Their worlds are truly explored and we come to know and understand them. Even empathize with them, despite some of their choices.
In the end, I sincerely wanted to know what would happen next with each of them, as we are left at a point in all of their lives where much is unresolved.
There's a moment in the story where Billy, the playwright, is reflecting on the success of her play, now that it's over, and feeling some satisfaction that, in her creation of a terrorist act on a train, she has used similar events (from 9/11 and what happened to Gus), but that, in a way, she has memorialized him in as she would not have been able to do otherwise. She sees this as her homage to him, her "not forgetting" Gus.
Sue Miller has done it again, with her characters, her plot, the multi-layered story that exposes the dark and light side of the human condition...and she has totally captured the attention of this reader. The Lake Shore Limited definitely earned five stars.
"The Lake Shore Limited" is also the name of the novel by Sue Miller, and at the same time the name of a play early within the novel. The premiere of the play is being given in a small theater in Boston some six years after 9/11.
As an aside, some way to distinguish the printed play from the novel text would have been appreciated, such as printing the ongoing script of the play in boldface. The characters in the play, the dialog, actions, and audience reactions get mixed together with the novel, and the reader struggles.
Meanwhile, in the play within the novel, the train has suffered a terrorist explosion. Many are wounded, many are dead. The play's protagonist is Gabriel, whose wife Elizabeth was on the train. Elizabeth and Gabriel had long been drifting apart in their marriage. Did she or did she not survive the attack on the train? Gabriel's grown son berates him for seeming not to care either way, and for always having been remote from the family, as he now appears to be from Elizabeth and the crash. Everyone is awaiting word. Here ends the brief synopsis of the play (no spoilers).
Now to the novel. The protagonist is Billy, who has parallels in her own life to what she wrote in the play. Six years previously, Billy had been living with Gus in his apartment when the tragic news came that he was in one of the planes that hit the towers on 9/11. Everyone expected Billy to be devastated, but she was not. Yet she felt obliged to act contrary to her real feelings. She had, in fact, been planning to leave Gus.
The novel fills in all the details by looking back on Billy's life before and after 9/11, right up to the time of the play six years later. Gus's full and happy life is shown, including his loving relationship with his much older sister Leslie and her husband. The background and current influence is told, of Rafe, the actor who was Gabriel in the play. Sam, an architect friend of Leslie's and her husband, is brought in. These four main characters -- Leslie, Rafe, Billy, and Sam -- are each given a long chapter, followed by four short chapters each, ending the book.
Author Sue Miller's lengthy portrayals of these characters and their interrelations are complex and greatly rewarding. There are scores of memorable passages that one would love to quote, but are beyond the scope of this brief review. Sue Miller's writing is outstanding and beautiful. Definitely five stars.