Known by millions of readers for vivid research and characters that live long after the last page is turned, Marge Piercy has breathed life into history and rendered societies past, present and future as real as the ink on the page. In her newest novel, Piercy’s focus is absolutely contemporary and frighteningly real. Told from the viewpoint of three unforgettable women — Beverly, the union organizer; her daughter, Suzanne, the litigator who can negotiate everyone’s problems but her own and Suzanne’s daughter Elena, burdened with a violent past before she ever grew out of childhood, Piercy weaves a generational saga about a tragedy that every one of us, man and woman, will face.
Suzanne Blume has survived two marriages, sent two children through college and is enjoying her first sexual relationship in over ten years. Her teaching duties at a Boston university allow her just enough time to take on important cases and most Saturdays she manages a few hours with her closest friend. When her elder daughter Elena loses yet another her job and moves back home, she’s not pleased but she has to admit, life at forty-nine has yielded some unexpected pleasures. But one day a messenger appears in court to announce that her mother, a woman of legendary independence whom Suzanne has never felt truly accepted her, has been rushed to the hospital.
Intertwining the lives of three generations of contemporary women, Marge Piercy brings her talents to bear on some of the most pressing questions confronting us today: How do we nurture children who cannot possibly live up to the dreams we create for them? How can we choose between our own needs and those of the people we love? Can we learn to become a family again after years of creating independent lives?
Told with the rich prose of a writer The Philadelphia Inquirer recently labeled “one of the most important poets of our time,” and the careful, detailed attention of a master story teller, Piercy’s Three Women is a novel as riveting as it is real and leads us to a place where some of our worst fears meet opportunity and a new chance at real love.
Chosen as an Alternate Selection of The Literary Guild
A Barnes & Noble Mass Market Paperback Bestseller
New York Times Book Review
October 31, 1999
Marge Piercy’s engrossing new novel introduces us to Suzanne Blume, an idealistic but pragmatic law professor. Approaching 50 and the mother of two grown daughters, Suzanne is enjoying her busy and productive life when, nearly simultaneously, her stroke-weakened mother, Beverly, and her unsettled older daughter, Elena, arrive on her doorstep in need of expensive and time-consuming attention. Until her stroke, Beverly had been an old-style leftist who majored in men and minored in child-rearing. Elena is a lost soul who is still recovering from a violent episode in her teens. Suzanne must also deal with Jake, a man with whom a cozy on-line flirtation has suddenly become an in-the-flesh reality. ”Three Women” is told serially from the points of view of Suzanne, Beverly and Elena, a technique that works quite well. The reader learns firsthand, for example, that Elena believes her beloved grandmother is ”the only one I’m any good for. Or who thinks I’m good for anything at all.” By the end, emotional resolution is reached on the common ground where so many of us live today: ”caught in the middle and pulled all ways.”
Advance Praise for Three Women
“This is a lovely and unforgettable novel, filled with wisdom and deep complexities of love between three women in the same family. It will break your heart. I couldn’t put the book down. The story is by turns fascinating, painful, rich in texture and personality, and very exciting. The range of understanding and emotion is remarkable. Piercy has written dozens of wonderful books throughout a distinguished career, but this is surely one of her very best.”
— John Nichols
“Like all of Piercy’s work, Three Women stretches ordinary thinking. Her characters and the scene are vividly imagined, and the novel is deeply satisfying.”
— Marilyn French
“In her new novel, Three Women, Piercy reveals the feel and grit of contemporary family life with all the sweep, intensity, and high drama that are her trademarks. I expect that all three of these bold, fascinating women will remain with me for a very long time.”
— Alix Kates Shulman
“Three Women moved me profoundly. It could be a mirror for many women today in all its authenticity and compassion. Marge Piercy’s work is always wonderful, and this is Piercy at her very best.”
— Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
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