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MacArthur Park

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A captivating, emotionally taut novel about the complexities of a friendship between two women--and how it shapes, and reshapes, both of their lives Filled with gorgeous prose and deep emotion . . . Explores what it means to be an artist, delves into the vicissitudes of life and death, and takes us on journey through the splendor (and sometimes ugliness) of the American Wes A captivating, emotionally taut novel about the complexities of a friendship between two women--and how it shapes, and reshapes, both of their lives Filled with gorgeous prose and deep emotion . . . Explores what it means to be an artist, delves into the vicissitudes of life and death, and takes us on journey through the splendor (and sometimes ugliness) of the American West--with dollops of Flaubert, Faulkner, Chekhov, Collette, and Chandler along the way.--Lisa See, author of The Island of Sea Women Jolene and Verna share complicated ties that have crystallized over time. Beginning when they were girls discovering their needs and desires, their ongoing stories have been inextricably linked. But when Verna marries Vincent, Jolene's ex-husband, their paths may have finally, permanently diverged. A successful and provocative feminist artist, Jolene travels the world, attracting attention wherever she goes. Verna, a writer, works from her home near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, where she and Vincent plan to spend the rest of their lives in a contemplative, intimate routine. Then Jolene asks one more favor of Verna--to take a road trip with her to their small hometown in Utah. It's a journey that will force them to confront both the truths and falsehoods of their memories of each other and of the very beginnings of their friendship, and to reckon with the meaning of love, of time itself, of the bonds that matter most to us, and with what we owe one another.


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A captivating, emotionally taut novel about the complexities of a friendship between two women--and how it shapes, and reshapes, both of their lives Filled with gorgeous prose and deep emotion . . . Explores what it means to be an artist, delves into the vicissitudes of life and death, and takes us on journey through the splendor (and sometimes ugliness) of the American Wes A captivating, emotionally taut novel about the complexities of a friendship between two women--and how it shapes, and reshapes, both of their lives Filled with gorgeous prose and deep emotion . . . Explores what it means to be an artist, delves into the vicissitudes of life and death, and takes us on journey through the splendor (and sometimes ugliness) of the American West--with dollops of Flaubert, Faulkner, Chekhov, Collette, and Chandler along the way.--Lisa See, author of The Island of Sea Women Jolene and Verna share complicated ties that have crystallized over time. Beginning when they were girls discovering their needs and desires, their ongoing stories have been inextricably linked. But when Verna marries Vincent, Jolene's ex-husband, their paths may have finally, permanently diverged. A successful and provocative feminist artist, Jolene travels the world, attracting attention wherever she goes. Verna, a writer, works from her home near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, where she and Vincent plan to spend the rest of their lives in a contemplative, intimate routine. Then Jolene asks one more favor of Verna--to take a road trip with her to their small hometown in Utah. It's a journey that will force them to confront both the truths and falsehoods of their memories of each other and of the very beginnings of their friendship, and to reckon with the meaning of love, of time itself, of the bonds that matter most to us, and with what we owe one another.

30 review for MacArthur Park

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Audiobook….read by Eva Kaminsky ….14 hours and 46 minutes Sometimes I feel like a broken record - plus I’m sure there is a more sophisticated to say this - But… fact is > I really love this book!!! A fourteen hour+ is a substantially long ‘listen’…yet —the seamless writing was so organically-natural and ‘spellbinding’ …. I didn’t care if it ever ended. The complexities between 2 women and 1 man > each with qualities to like and dislike — was emotionally and intellectually packed filled with depth Audiobook….read by Eva Kaminsky ….14 hours and 46 minutes Sometimes I feel like a broken record - plus I’m sure there is a more sophisticated to say this - But… fact is > I really love this book!!! A fourteen hour+ is a substantially long ‘listen’…yet —the seamless writing was so organically-natural and ‘spellbinding’ …. I didn’t care if it ever ended. The complexities between 2 women and 1 man > each with qualities to like and dislike — was emotionally and intellectually packed filled with depth. There is no schlocky relationship writing. The prose is ‘brilliant, and ultimately a deliciously complicated enjoyable novel. It’s so totally engrossing …. exploring a multi-layered friendship between (Jolene and Verna), women, marriage, (Vincent: both women were married to him), art books, music, politics, writing, foods, isolation, loneliness, disappointments, morality, feminism, race, class, choices, change, beauty, jealousy, contradictory feelings, economic and sexual upheavals, Asperger’s syndrome, Utah, Los Angeles, Paris, wealth, purpose, regrets, betrayal, tenderness, compassion, …. all very realistic, visual, and irresistible. Judith Freeman just became an author I must read again. Note: if you were fully absorbed between Elena and Lila in the Neapolitan series… this might be a novel to consider reading. It was an awesome audiobook!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I am a great fan of Judith Freeman (Red Water, The Long Embrace, The Latter Days) and her newest novel, Macarthur Park is a subtle, risk taking story built delicately on the shifting sands of interwoven destinies, the tale of three flawed people intimately linked by love and their mutual history. Freeman's humanity and compassion, her understanding of the deep roots of friendship and the patient unfolding of relationships is a marvel. Verna, a working-class Utah housewife, loses her husband to an I am a great fan of Judith Freeman (Red Water, The Long Embrace, The Latter Days) and her newest novel, Macarthur Park is a subtle, risk taking story built delicately on the shifting sands of interwoven destinies, the tale of three flawed people intimately linked by love and their mutual history. Freeman's humanity and compassion, her understanding of the deep roots of friendship and the patient unfolding of relationships is a marvel. Verna, a working-class Utah housewife, loses her husband to another woman after twenty years of marriage. Meanwhile, her childhood best friend Jolene has become a famous and controversial artist. On a whim, Verna decides to join Jolene in Los Angeles, not realizing that Jolene’s marriage to a mysterious man, a composer, Vincent, is also troubled, When Jolene leaves Vincent, he seeks out the simpler, sincere and calming Verna. Eventually, they marry. Over the years, Verna finds a new life for herself as a writer, and discovers some deep truths about this man she has chosen. But their quiet life is shaken to the core when they learn--in their late sixties--that they will be evicted from their longtime home in Macarthur Park, a turmoil exacerbated by the reappearance of Jolene after a twenty-year absence. Jolene’s request that Verna return with her to Utah, where their relationship began, completes the cycle of this quiet, beautiful story of imperfect people nevertheless holding love between them. Freeman never takes an expected turn. None of this will you have seen in a conventional friend-novel or on the screen. It has the scent of reality, and the unbalance of reality, the awkward pull of real relationships, and the depth of relationships that survive the years. Both quiet and remarkable. It will be published in October, 2021.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒍𝒕 𝒎𝒚 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒂𝒏 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝑰 𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒕 𝑼𝒕𝒂𝒉, 𝒔𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒊𝒅. 𝑴𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒂𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒆𝒆𝒎 𝒔𝒐 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒆, 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆’𝒔 𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓. 𝑰𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒅. 𝑶𝒓 𝒔𝒐 𝑰 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒅. There are many books that claim to be about ‘the complexities of female friendship’ or ‘the intricacies of marriage’ but MacArthur Park truly is. Verna and Jolene have an enduring friendship that began in childhood, an intimacy that they can’t erase even if they wished to, via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ 𝑰 𝒇𝒆𝒍𝒕 𝒎𝒚 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒍 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒂𝒏 𝒘𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝑰 𝒍𝒆𝒇𝒕 𝑼𝒕𝒂𝒉, 𝒔𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒂𝒊𝒅. 𝑴𝒚 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒂𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝒔𝒆𝒆𝒎 𝒔𝒐 𝒔𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒎𝒆, 𝒍𝒊𝒌𝒆 𝒐𝒏𝒆 𝒐𝒇 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆’𝒔 𝒊𝒍𝒍𝒏𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒔 𝒚𝒐𝒖 𝒈𝒆𝒕 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓. 𝑰𝒕 𝒉𝒂𝒅 𝒑𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒆𝒅. 𝑶𝒓 𝒔𝒐 𝑰 𝒃𝒆𝒍𝒊𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒅. There are many books that claim to be about ‘the complexities of female friendship’ or ‘the intricacies of marriage’ but MacArthur Park truly is. Verna and Jolene have an enduring friendship that began in childhood, an intimacy that they can’t erase even if they wished to, despite time. Jolene defines their bond as being one ‘made up of disorder, instability, incoherence, feelings of inferiority or superiority.’ Of course intimacy and affection exist between the two and it may well be that despite Verna marrying Jolene’s ex-husband, the bond between the women may have far more substance than any other relationship in their lives. Verna is the steady one, a creation born out of Utah herself, married at a young age and perfectly content to remain in the place they were raised. Unlike Jolene, she loves it there. Her options have always been far more limited, and certainly she doesn’t have the hungry ambition and the artistic imagination of Jolene, who wants nothing more than to reinvent herself and never look back on the past. Despite being born to wealth, it’s a cage Jolene has shaken since childhood with her reckless daring. Verna doesn’t fully comprehend the bold wildness and as close as she is to Jolene, there are still things she doesn’t know. Her wealth is meaningless to her. Verna has always followed behind, if not quite worshipful then hopeful that some of her friends energy would rub off on her. It is exciting being at her side, Jolene is ‘a force’ that could never be contained in such small places. From an early age she captivates everyone around her, young and old alike. Her talent is undeniable. It’s only fitting she becomes a feminist artist, challenging the male dominated art world. It doesn’t hurt that she is beautiful either, but that beauty is sharp as a razor’s edge. It’s no surprise she flees. Verna writes about life while Jolene creates it but what they understand about themselves and each other may not be set in stone. Each marvel at the way life turns out. Verna leaves her hometown behind when her first husband takes up with another woman. It’s the perfect opportunity to head to L.A. and visit her old friend. She feels awkward being in Jolene’s home, not realizing her timing is horrendous, that Jolene and Vincent are at the end of their relationship. Jolene comes off as smug from the moment of the first phone call and later, challenging Verna’s presence, doubtful that L.A. is the right fit for her, someone self-contained, so ordinary, so… innocent. It’s evident that her old friend doesn’t want to remember the past, but it certainly won’t let go and rising to the surface of the conversations. Jolene provokes important thoughts in Verna’s mind, at times allowing old self to make an appearance, someone once so dear to her. As she makes a place for herself, she can’t help but notice how ill-matched Jolene and Vincent are. Vincent is impenetrable where Jolene pushes boundaries, lives loudly. The only commonality seems to be honest their nature, their wit, unconcerned with what others think. Surprisingly, Jolene leaves and it is Verna that Vincent turns to. Together, the two create a beautiful world, but one of routine. They fall in love, Vincent moves into Verna’s apartment in MacArthur Park where he is safe from change (all of his need for structure makes sense as the story flows). She is a writer, maybe not as artistic as Jolene, but it has fulfilled her. Thirty years pass, and now change is threatening to upend their bliss. Stranger still, Jolene, whose communications all this time have been sporadic, is moving back to L.A. and wants to see them. She asks it remain a secret from Vincent. It sounds like a simple story, but it isn’t. It is about feminism, how vital female friendships are in the making of our future selves, art, defiance of expectations, understanding our nature and that of others and marriage for people who stand outside the social norms. It is also about families, that we run from and to. The novel hit home for me, for reasons I can’t explain without giving away Vincent’s story. It’s a beautiful tale of humanity, and how our lives can change in unexpected ways. It is about love, between friends as much as partners. This isn’t a tale of betrayal, which you would assume when Verna and Vincent take up with each other. Jolene’s failure to remain with Vincent makes sense long after they’ve parted just as Verna’s steadfast loyalty leads to understanding. Jolene understands how to convey ‘the story of the wound’, and Verna learns to unlock human mysteries through her love of Vincent. She may not be as sophisticated and worldly as Jolene, but her path is no less important. Sometimes Jolene assumes their world is narrow, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. Love can be an art form with just as much sacrifice and challenges. Verna loved Jolene for her self-revelations and Vincent for his reserve. Life invades and all of Vincent’s habits that Verna has absorbed makes her feel stuck. What will become of their love, when Jolene makes a last request? It is a tale that will surprise you with it’s humanity. The stark contrast between their lives won’t keep them from coming together and reflecting on the past. What has driven Jolene to create such shocking work? What has kept Verna and Vincent’s marriage sheltered, safe from the changing world? Why was it necessary? Beautiful- this is one of the best novels I have ever read about love. It surprised me. Publication Date: October 12th, 2021 Pantheon Books

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen Foster

    I really loved this novel about two women, and their long term friendship with all it’s ups and downs over a lifetime, and the man they both marry (at separate times.)The writing is beautiful, and the characters so nuanced,as their lives ebb and flow, together and apart. I love a novel that seems simple, just a study of three people, as the grow and age, but digs so deep. Emotionally complex and engrossing. Couldn’t put this down.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    It was okay. Well written, but by the end I just wanted to be done with all these frustrating people. The book has a strange way of fast-forwarding through big chunks of time. "So anyway, ten years passed..." And the way the road trip (which isn't even brought up until about halfway through the book) ends is so abrupt, the entire drive home is basically a paragraph, and then there's another time skip where the women "meet again." I felt like they'd literally just been together, so the sudden arr It was okay. Well written, but by the end I just wanted to be done with all these frustrating people. The book has a strange way of fast-forwarding through big chunks of time. "So anyway, ten years passed..." And the way the road trip (which isn't even brought up until about halfway through the book) ends is so abrupt, the entire drive home is basically a paragraph, and then there's another time skip where the women "meet again." I felt like they'd literally just been together, so the sudden arrival had absolutely no weight to it. I wouldn't say I'm disappointed I read it, but I don't think I gained very much from it (other than rediscovering the song MacArthur Park, which really is great but nowhere near as mysterious as the characters seem to think it is).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    Review coming in Booklist. An extremely erudite, complex novel.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    MACARTHUR PARK by Judith Freeman is a brilliant and balmy novel about fraught friendships revisited. Judith’s writing is canny and elegant, expertly entwining art with psychology and travel with memory. Come for the refined and economic prose, stay for the eccentric and emotionally rich relationships.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tricia

    Never thought I’d describe a book as pretentious but here I am. Pretentious characters. Pretentious plot.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Janice

    Judith Freeman has long been one of my favorite authors. This is not a story for anyone who likes a lot of action in their novels, as much of this story is told in looking back at the past, and in contemplation and reflection. This is a story of a marriage, and a life-long friendship, told by way of Ms. Freeman's skilled descriptions, examination of thoughts and feelings. The three people who make up this story are all such interesting characters, and the ways their lives have intertwined and sp Judith Freeman has long been one of my favorite authors. This is not a story for anyone who likes a lot of action in their novels, as much of this story is told in looking back at the past, and in contemplation and reflection. This is a story of a marriage, and a life-long friendship, told by way of Ms. Freeman's skilled descriptions, examination of thoughts and feelings. The three people who make up this story are all such interesting characters, and the ways their lives have intertwined and spun out made it a compelling read for me. The compassion, love, and kindness that each gives to one of the other characters at various times, gives emotional depth and meaning to this wonderful novel.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Linz

    About five or six chapters into this book, I began to feel uneasy. Was it possible that the author did not realize that her protagonist was utterly insufferable? No. No way. Surely, I thought, this MUST be a satire. I mean, you don’t create characters like this — pompous, fatuous, painfully self-important, humorless and utterly charmless — without fully understanding how loathsome they are. Surely the author created these two-dimensional simulacra of human beings in order to skewer the pretensio About five or six chapters into this book, I began to feel uneasy. Was it possible that the author did not realize that her protagonist was utterly insufferable? No. No way. Surely, I thought, this MUST be a satire. I mean, you don’t create characters like this — pompous, fatuous, painfully self-important, humorless and utterly charmless — without fully understanding how loathsome they are. Surely the author created these two-dimensional simulacra of human beings in order to skewer the pretensions of would-be intellectuals. Yes? Had I made it to the end, I would have answered this question with certainty. Alas! When I looked up the author’s other works and realized that a good deal of her fiction is laced with very specific achievements and details drawn from her own life, reading this book became an exercise in fremdschämen too exquisitely painful to endure.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tess

    MACARTHUR PARK by Judith Freeman is a book that came out late last year that sort of flew under the radar, though it was on many anticipated lists for the second half of 2021. It certainly it not for everyone, and I greatly struggled with the writing and plot of the book. The characters are intriguing and poignant at times, though I found the book as a whole a bit of a slog. It is a book that dives deep into female friendship and strained relationships, and it does get to the heart of those matt MACARTHUR PARK by Judith Freeman is a book that came out late last year that sort of flew under the radar, though it was on many anticipated lists for the second half of 2021. It certainly it not for everyone, and I greatly struggled with the writing and plot of the book. The characters are intriguing and poignant at times, though I found the book as a whole a bit of a slog. It is a book that dives deep into female friendship and strained relationships, and it does get to the heart of those matters in fascinating ways. Verna is a divorcee who moves to LA to be near her childhood friend Jolene. Jolene is in the midst of breaking up her marriage to Vincent as her career as a feminist performance artist is on the rise. But then, Vincent and Verna end up marrying and we fast forward 30 years to learn how the ripples and repercussions of this infect their friendship. A gripping story idea but with a bit of a pretentious execution.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dorothee Kocks

    This book is profound, beautiful, disturbing, real, intimate, and shatteringly true. Judith Freeman describes the world, especially the landscape of the West, with tender and accurate language. Equally so, she summons the inner worlds of characters with empathy and sharp insight. She lays bare the deepest hidden territories without flinching. To be so real about relationships takes digging ‘into a wound that is still infected,’ as she writes at one point. To be so good at this kind of humane exc This book is profound, beautiful, disturbing, real, intimate, and shatteringly true. Judith Freeman describes the world, especially the landscape of the West, with tender and accurate language. Equally so, she summons the inner worlds of characters with empathy and sharp insight. She lays bare the deepest hidden territories without flinching. To be so real about relationships takes digging ‘into a wound that is still infected,’ as she writes at one point. To be so good at this kind of humane excavation takes decades of reading and listening and looking, and her characters bring their books and art and music and suffering and illumination along with them. Some readers might chafe at the number of quotes and references but I would urge patience. It all adds up. I connected with the point-of-view character, Verna, because of the low-grinding fear that she carries: Because she’s had a long marriage, and has made the concessions specific to that marriage, and because she’s lived a quiet, isolated life… for these reasons, she fears she has not been worldly enough, and especially not feminist enough. She has not shaken the training to be nice, to live for others. “I saw how at times I said things to make others feel better. Things I perhaps didn’t fully believe or that reeked of the easy sentiment. I said these things looking for love, for acceptance and safety. Trying to balance the world around me, as I had seen women forever do. I saw what a horrible amount of work this was. But what, I wondered, would happen if I learned to wait—to test my feelings first, and value them, so that I could know what I wanted to do before the need arose to act in some circumscribed way?” Verna’s re-assessment of her life plays out in the central conflict of the book, the re-connection with her childhood friend Jolene. They are superficially best friends until divorce, upended lives, and then Jolene’s approaching death by cancer force them together. They take a road trip from L.A. to Salt Lake, a road trip that is anything but an easy buddy movie, and anything but an easy Western narrative (though there is love of horses, there is sage, there is mountain majesty… and there are black crows on the roadside, their wings “shellacked with sunlight.” There is the Great Salt Lake, shimmering with “with tiny scallops of juddering light.”) The conflict expands from two white women wrestling with their legacies to the battles playing out in the literal Nevada mine fields and in the broader American gun battles, waged in the city streets, waged in battles abroad, waged by corporations over human bodies and the poor. This a big book. This is a book I needed to read to feel even more, learn even more, regret even more, be inspired even more, now at this point in this century. Highly recommend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I find novels about female friendships particularly intriguing – the intricacies, the conflicts, the emotional bonds. That’s what I thought I signed myself up for when I picked this up off the library shelf but unfortunately I found it rather disappointing overall. I did not expect that I would be reading something akin to “Firefly Lane,” but to me, this novel fell obnoxiously flat. I say with 100% certainty that I did not like any of the main characters. Vincent’s autism resulted in an aloof ch I find novels about female friendships particularly intriguing – the intricacies, the conflicts, the emotional bonds. That’s what I thought I signed myself up for when I picked this up off the library shelf but unfortunately I found it rather disappointing overall. I did not expect that I would be reading something akin to “Firefly Lane,” but to me, this novel fell obnoxiously flat. I say with 100% certainty that I did not like any of the main characters. Vincent’s autism resulted in an aloof character. I can’t really complain because we really only know him through Verna. I did not find a single likable thing about Jolene. She came off as spoiled, entitled, blunt without tact and just mean. The author used the majority of Jolene‘s dialogue to preach. Preach about the ills of the world, preach how we’re destroying the planet, preach how everything she does is so highbrow and utterly meaningful and how you apparently cannot have an enjoyable moment without attaching some negativity to it. She acknowledges her meanness in the book and I don’t honestly understand why Verna would indulge her at all. Her “art” sounded like another example of her exhibitionism and narcissism. She likes to shock and create controversy but it’s so over the top that I thought to myself “enough already.” Verna was likeable enough; the character is bland and inoffensive and frankly a pushover. She is very sensitive to the needs of other characters, to her own detriment. There were portions of the book that I just skipped over referencing dead authors over and over, and their lives. The passages when Jolene began preaching on her high horse were totally uninteresting. It felt like both Verna and the reader were getting a lecture. The novel briefly touched upon the girls’ relationship growing up, which took half a book to even get to. So much time was spent establishing Verna and Vincent’s life in CA. The best character was Aunt Marie when she confronted teenage Jolene (long overdue). I finished the book because I got too far into it to stop but did not enjoy it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I've always had a tender spot for Judith Freeman. She grew up as part of a large Mormon family in Utah 10 years before I did. She married young, then left her marriage and shed her past like an old skin leaving internal vestiges of disease - like I did. The past comes out in her beautiful writing in various ways, in her memoir Latter Days and in echoes or ghosts in her various works of fiction. I think this is her best book yet. It tells the story of two close friends who grew up in (unnamed) Og I've always had a tender spot for Judith Freeman. She grew up as part of a large Mormon family in Utah 10 years before I did. She married young, then left her marriage and shed her past like an old skin leaving internal vestiges of disease - like I did. The past comes out in her beautiful writing in various ways, in her memoir Latter Days and in echoes or ghosts in her various works of fiction. I think this is her best book yet. It tells the story of two close friends who grew up in (unnamed) Ogden, Utah. One bold, striking & brilliant and bolstered by money and confidence, she makes her way in the world as an artist. The other, Verna, quiet, intelligent and searching, finds her way through relationships, through writing and with her own kind of boldness. Years go by with no communication between them, but when they do speak or see each other, the intensity and closeness is immediately back. The story is above all, a love story, of these two friends and of the man they both love. A beautiful meditation on the choices we make set against a beautifully described western landscape, as well as the broken down, decaying, Macarthur Park in Los Angeles.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    The most incredible book I have read in a very long time. Writing with with profound intelligence and the characters literally popped off the page. Vincent was a mystery unravelled in a beautiful way, Jolene is the counter picture of the narrater, Verna. The Los Angeles scene was the vision of lifestyle so believable! The famous authors and artists the author manages to introduce ad such lustre and character to the plot. It is impossible to provide sufficient admiration for the tale. The descrip The most incredible book I have read in a very long time. Writing with with profound intelligence and the characters literally popped off the page. Vincent was a mystery unravelled in a beautiful way, Jolene is the counter picture of the narrater, Verna. The Los Angeles scene was the vision of lifestyle so believable! The famous authors and artists the author manages to introduce ad such lustre and character to the plot. It is impossible to provide sufficient admiration for the tale. The description of the Wide Basin that extends from California, to Nevada into Utah helps the reader to enjoy this land through words of someone most acquainted with the area. At the same time, to follow the interaction and intelligence along with emotional feeling is exceptional. Comparing and contrasting Jolene along with Verna is a complete lesson in itself. A great read! Marvelous on many levels. Would love to meet this author someday.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ray

    I have a lot of quibbles with this book, but it also moved me…a lot. The quibbles: a. The whole Vincent taming the shrew (aka Verna) was not cool. b. The race analysis was ill formed and sometimes bad. This especially matters because these two white people live in a majority BIPOC community. c. I couldn’t stand the lionization of so much 19th and 20th century lit-it didn’t just show up in relationship to characterization. What will stick with me: a. Unique love letter to LA. b. Jolene. So annoying I have a lot of quibbles with this book, but it also moved me…a lot. The quibbles: a. The whole Vincent taming the shrew (aka Verna) was not cool. b. The race analysis was ill formed and sometimes bad. This especially matters because these two white people live in a majority BIPOC community. c. I couldn’t stand the lionization of so much 19th and 20th century lit-it didn’t just show up in relationship to characterization. What will stick with me: a. Unique love letter to LA. b. Jolene. So annoying but so real. Freeman captured something true in her. c. Deep examination of relationships, how they work, how people change (or don’t), etc. I was especially interested in the examination of the childhood to adulthood friend thing. d. The road-trip e. The way Verna is sometimes meek or quiet but how she also notices every detail, all the time. f. All the eating and food descriptions. Amazing prose and interesting structure.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Cassell

    Particularly strong in descriptions of place, going from Salt Lake City, Utah to LA and back again. Two women as childhood friends, and throughout their lives, could have been lovers. Well written in its scope of a full life time, from childhood to aging and death. Clear understanding of Asperger’s disease , and its tragic effects. A little too long and too much about their pet cat, but it holds your attention to the bitter end, and is most vivid in its description of the drive from LA to SLC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Walter

    A story of two women's friendship from their teen years in Utah to their adult lives when both lived around MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. Their lives are filled with art and music and literature, and the many cultural references add to the pleasure of reading about them. They also share the love of the same man. Verna, the writer, marries Vincent after Jolene leaves him. This is an intelligent, satisfying novel. A story of two women's friendship from their teen years in Utah to their adult lives when both lived around MacArthur Park in Los Angeles. Their lives are filled with art and music and literature, and the many cultural references add to the pleasure of reading about them. They also share the love of the same man. Verna, the writer, marries Vincent after Jolene leaves him. This is an intelligent, satisfying novel.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Margo Stern

    What an odd, emotionally charged and compelling novel. At once I wanted to put it down, put off by the lack of deep character building or empathy, but I also kept getting struck again and again by the sharp emotional turns and evocations (mostly around cats and Los Angeles), and I just needed to see where it was going to end up. Makes me want to keep writing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gail M

    2.5. I liked parts of this. Overall I had to skim a lot. There were weird repetitions and so many tangents and literary references it all felt excessive. A serious editing/cutting job would have helped. I made it to the end but it was a slog.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gena

    Sorry, couldn't finish this one. Pages and pages of the main character thinking and analyzing every detail of her life. Unnecessary sexual content. Plus, first person POV, which I hate. I won this one and I'm always grateful for a free book, it just wasn't my style. Sorry, couldn't finish this one. Pages and pages of the main character thinking and analyzing every detail of her life. Unnecessary sexual content. Plus, first person POV, which I hate. I won this one and I'm always grateful for a free book, it just wasn't my style.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Judy Dechter

    Boring Long winded with excessive literacy references. Just too much and too long. Couldn't wait for it to end. Highly overrated. Boring Long winded with excessive literacy references. Just too much and too long. Couldn't wait for it to end. Highly overrated.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Loved everything except the ending.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gwen Davis

    Notes to self: [weird repetitions and inconsistencies that never bore out. Also some descriptions of the neighborhood that were not exactly racist, but were sort of weird]

  25. 5 out of 5

    LOUISE

    Very poignant . Repetitive at times. And a little far fetched that they could live in that same apartment for 30 years.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Couldn't finish Couldn't finish

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Coiner

    couldn't finish it. couldn't finish it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diane Felci

    Interesting story of two friends on a road trip

  29. 5 out of 5

    Catherine De Zwart

    Book Club Choice April 2022 - Couldn't get a copy in time Book Club Choice April 2022 - Couldn't get a copy in time

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ellen L

    2.5. Some lovely writing. Some interesting ideas. But too much of a slog to get to those few nuggets.

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