Our lady of the prairie

Thisbe Nissen, 1972-

Book - 2018

"A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises--and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself...In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad--long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter--grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa f...or her daughter Ginny's wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband. Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage. Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election,Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp--a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart"--

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FICTION/Nissen Thisbe
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1st Floor FICTION/Nissen Thisbe Checked In
Subjects
Genres
Humorous fiction
Romance fiction
Love stories
Published
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2018.
Language
English
Physical Description
357 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781328662071
1328662071
Main Author
Thisbe Nissen, 1972- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

As a theater professor, it's perhaps only fitting that Phillipa Maakestad seems to crave a certain amount of drama in her life. Her marriage of more than a quarter century is stable, her emotionally troubled daughter, Ginny, is not only on the mend, she is also about to be married, so what better time for Phil to embark on a lusty, midlife love affair with Lucius Boccelli, a history professor she meets while on a teaching exchange program? This isn't some premenopausal, fly-by-night fling; she and Lucius are in L-O-V-E love. Just as they are about to settle into a romantic Paris sabbatical, Phil's soon-to-be-ex-mother-in-law, Bernadette, dies back in Iowa, and the loss throws fragile Ginny into a tailspin. Phil returns home to bury Bernadette, ponder the woman's secretive past, and help Ginny through a high-stakes pregnancy. With humor, grace, and honesty, Nissen's three heroines ride an emotional roller coaster as they reconcile their respective pasts, ride out a turbulent present, and, hopefully, secure a more serene future. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Author of a John Simmons Short Fiction Award winner and two praised novels, Nissen surfaces after more than a decade with Phillipa Maakestad, a theater professor who enjoyed a passionate affair while teaching away from home for a semester. Havoc descends when she returns for her daughter's wedding. With a 40,000-copy first printing; a seven-city tour. Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Longtime theater professor Phillipa Maakestad is in Ohio teaching for the spring semester when she meets and falls in love with Lucius Bocelli. It's too bad she's already married to Michael—and has been for 26 years—sharing the responsibility of teaching in the theater department at the University of Iowa and raising a difficult daughter in their quiet Midwestern home. After weeks of mind-blowing passion in Ohio, Phil leaves to return to her prairie home for her daughter's nuptials to a former Amish man, Silas. It's springtime in the Midwest and prime season for a tornado to rip through the fields on the day of the wedding. Meanwhile, Phil pretends to be one half of an untroubled couple and deals with her exasperating and possible Nazi collaborator mother-in-law. A metaphorical tornado is sweeping through Phil's fine-but-staid life and upending everything she's built in the past three decades. VERDICT Investigating dysfunction and cynicism with humor, Nissen (Osprey Island) writes a descriptive novel filled with vulnerable and complicated characters who are often all too human. [See Prepub Alert, 8/2/17.]—Melissa Keegan, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Nissen (Out of the Girls' Room and Into the Night) relies too heavily on authorial gymnastics in her latest, which explores what happens in middle-aged theater professor Phillipa Maakestad's life after she falls in love and decides to blow up her marriage. The tornado that subsequently roars through town and disrupts the wedding of her emotionally fragile daughter, Ginny, at the once-Catholic Our Lady of the Prairie Church is a metaphor for the ensuing emotional chaos. Phillipa's attempts to reclaim control—allowing her husband to spank her, handling her daughter's hostility about the affair—are less than successful. Meanwhile, she becomes obsessed with proving that her belligerent European mother-in-law collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, and her decision to volunteer for John Kerry's 2004 presidential run is a dramatic distraction she does not need. Nissen excels at capturing her protagonist as a woman on the edge—the elation, the sex, the emotional roller coaster, the questionable choices. But the mother-in-law subplot is too much for the narrative to support. It affords Nissen the chance to spin a self-contained, creative, and ironic 58-page fantasy, but Phillipa's fixation remains nebulous. Is it a diversionary tactic against the circus her life has become, or a sign that she has lost touch with the people around her? This big question mark overshadows the book's other elements, resulting in an intriguing yet uneven story. (Jan.) Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises--and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself...In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, PhillipaMaakestad--long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter--grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny's wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband. Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage. Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election,Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp--a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Setting aside the complications of her extramarital affair to oversee her unstable daughter's wedding, Phillipa Maakestad navigates the challenges of a wedding-day tornado, a menacing mother-in-law, and her once-docile husband's tragicomic revenge fantasies.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Setting aside the complications of her extramarital affair to oversee her unstable daughter's wedding on the Iowa prairie, a newly single theater professor navigates such challenges as a wedding-day tornado, a fascist mother-in-law and her once-docile ex's tragicomic revenge fantasies. 40,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises—and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad—long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter—grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny’s wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband. Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage. Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election,Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp—a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart.

Review by Publisher Summary 5

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises'and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad'long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter'grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny's wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband. Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage. Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election,Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp'a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart.

Review by Publisher Summary 6

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises—and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad—long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter—grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny’s wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband. Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage. Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election,Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp—a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart.

Review by Publisher Summary 7

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish Midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises'and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself

Review by Publisher Summary 8

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish Midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises—and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself