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The Northbury Papers Mass Market Paperback – Aug 3 1999

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (Aug. 3 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553576615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553576610
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.3 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,600,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Asked why she is fascinated by the "popular" (read "trashy") novels of 19th-century writer Serena Northbury, Professor Karen Pelletier says, "She's the only novelist I know from that era who writes about the kind of courage it takes to get through life day by day. No white whales. No uncharted forests. No scarlet letters. No great heroics at all. Just food and drink and perseverance. And ordinary kindness. And ordinary love." Then, to herself, she thinks, "A totally banal literary exegesis. If anyone in the English Department at Enfield heard it, I'd be drummed out of the profession." Serena Northbury doesn't exist: as Joanne Dobson tells us in an afterword, she's based on a novelist named Emma Southworth and also on Jo March, Louisa May Alcott's alter ego in Little Women. Karen Pelletier isn't real, either, but this second book about her (after Quieter Than Sleep) continues to make her one of the most interesting characters in recent crime fiction. Carpers might say that certain plot twists point to trouble down the road: both books are about missing old manuscripts; both have female scholarship students being sexually harassed by rich and/or powerful men; both find people Karen knows being murdered. As the increasingly attractive local cop, Lieutenant Piotrowski, says, "It's not that I don't appreciate your help. We coulda never unraveled this without you. But why does it always have to come to gunplay? Huh, Doctor? Can you tell me that? A nice quiet teacher like yourself: Why do you always end up facing a gun?" Well, lieutenant, it worked for Jessica Fletcher... --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Contradicting the joke that academic infighting is so fierce because the stakes are so small, a $10 million bequest may figure in murder at prestigious northeastern Enfield College. English professor Karen Pelletier (introduced in Quieter Than Sleep, 1997) decides to study the work of Serena Northbury, a 19th-century novelist considered trashy in her time. Pelletier, who advocates adding unheralded women and minority authors to the traditional literature curriculum, befriends the elderly and ailing Dr. Edith Hart, Northbury's great-granddaughter. Hart gives Pelletier access to her musty collection of Northbury writings and mementos. When Hart dies suddenly, police suspect foul play despite her old age and diabetes. Even Pelletier might have a motive, because Hart changed her will, leaving $10,000,000 to Enfield if Karen directs a research center devoted to Northbury. The windfall infuriates college trustee Thibault Brewster, a Hart relative who wanted more for himself. Brewster's son, known as Tibby II, disrupts one of Pelletier's classes and harasses a black female student. To such academic intrigues are added murder, missing manuscripts, the riddle of a baby picture from long ago and the news that Pelletier's former boyfriend is getting married. By the time this entertaining tale has revealed the full complement of small-mindedness on the Endicott campus, the unacademic local homicide detective, Piotrowski, is looking very appealing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 7 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Northbury Papers is the second volume in Professor Joanne Dobson's series about Professor Karen Pelletier. In Quieter than Sleep, readers first met the professor. Doctor Pelletier found herself pregnant as a teen in high school, and dropped out of her plans to go to Smith to marry her truck driver lover. After a difficult pregnancy and marital abuse, she puts her life together to raise her daughter as a single Mom while pursuing her academic career. Finally finding love with a cop in New York, she abandons him to follow her desire for a career to settle at tony, elite Enfield College in New England. Arriving at Enfield, she's the new kid on the English department block sharing responsibilities for 19th century American literature with an aggressive, pompous womanizer who wants to discuss more than literature with her. She finds herself attracted to all the wrong men, and attracts attention from men she would rather avoid. Ah well, back to those term papers!
Those who liked Quieter than Sleep will probably enjoy The Northbury Papers as well.
I recommend reading Quieter than Sleep before this book because the characters won't make as much sense without having read that book first. Otherwise, you may find this book to be below average for a literary mystery.
Professor Karen Pelletier has had a long-time interest in the neglected popular women authors in 19th century America. When her friend, Professor Jill Greenberg, gives her a gift of Jane Eyre which had once belonged to popular fiction author Mrs. Serena Northbury, her interest is redirected towards Mrs. Northbury's appealing work. Karen tracks down the seller, Dr. Edith Hart, and is delighted to find that the family home contains other books . . . and even personal papers that belonged to Mrs. Northbury. With Dr.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Dr. Karen Pelletier is fascinated by the work of Serena Northbury. She was a popular fiction novelist of the 1800's. Other literature professors and students call her stories trash, but Karen feels that she has captured life. A find in an old bookstore leads to her meeting Northbury's great granddaughter, Dr. Edith Hart. Dr. Hart is very frail from age and diabetes, but still a very forceful personality. She answers some of the questions Karen has for her, and promises more info later. Karen is given permission to look through some of her personal papers and finds what looks to be an unpublished manuscript. Not too long after, Dr. Hart is murdered and the manuscript disappears. Dr. Hart has left a strange will, she left 10 million and the mansion to Enfield College with the condition that Karen run the new Northbury Center for Women's Literature. This makes many very unhappy, was one of them the murderer?
This was a very quick moving novel. I liked the characters, for the most part, they were real people, not dry academics, like many of this genre. Karen is not your typical English professor. The author is very good at intertwining the various plots. Very good mystery.
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Format: Hardcover
The English department of New England's Enfield College is divided over what constitutes classic literature. The old guard revere Shakespeare and Chaucer. Austen sometimes gets a nod. The new centurions regard just about anything as literature. This war leaves two year professor Karen Pelletier in the wrong camp as the department chair champions Milton while Karen was hired to teach American Women's Literature, an oxymoron amongst her peers.

To make tenure even more tenuous, Karen is fascinated by the works of nineteenth century writer Serena Northbury, who all her colleagues agree wrote trash. She plans to write a biography on the woman in spite of the objections of the people in her department. During her research, Karen finds an unpublished manuscript in the possession of a descendent of Northbury. However, instead of academia triumph, a murder occurs. Karen realizes that she has more to worry about than just the potential demise of her career as someone wants her out of the way too.

The second Professor Pelletier academic mystery is a brilliant entry that will elate the audience. The characters are sharp and in many ways a satirical look at the ole boys network. The who-done-it is interesting and puzzling enough to charm readers. However, what really makes THE NORTHBURY PAPERS grade out as an A+ is Karen's relationships with various and sundry, including the long-deceased author she is studying. Anyone who enjoys a fun mystery, but especially with a college backdrop, should read Joanne Dobson' latest novel and its predecessor, QUIETER THAN SLEEP, because the author has a 4.0 index while majoring in entertaining, well-written literature.

Harriet Klausner
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