DISAPPEARING INGENUE: The Misadventures of Eleanor Stoddard

Melissa Pritchard, Author . Doubleday $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-50303-7

This impressive new collection of eight interrelated stories from the author of Selene of the Spirits charts the journey of Eleanor Stoddard from awkward childhood through troubled adolescence and disappointing adulthood to adventurous freedom. In "Port de Bras," a sixth-grade Eleanor must confront her willingness to be deceived by a beautiful and dishonest new classmate: she thinks that "something lay dormant in each of us, that only the right constellation of weakness could bring whatever it was into the light." Eleanor searches for what might lie dormant in her through much of the collection. At a private Catholic school, she becomes entranced by both the Virgin Mary and the Mother Superior; later she tries her hand at acting; she marries and turns into a frustrated housewife whose main source of excitement is her daughter's Nancy Drew books. She divorces, remarries and divorces again, and becomes a romance novel writer overshadowed by her two beautiful daughters, "her replacements, the truest romance of her life." With each story the collection gains momentum. "Her Last Man" offers, through a series of urgent glimpses, new insight into Eleanor's relationship with her father. Pritchard's prose is spare and wrenching as it describes Eleanor's final return to him—her first, and last, man. Pritchard provides a dazzling finale with the Pushcart Prize–winning "Funktionslust." Eleanor has been placed in charge of a rescued chimpanzee called Hilton and, with him in tow, in a bizarre but inspired conclusion, she embarks upon an exhilarating new search. Agent, Joy Harris. (May 21)

Reviewed on: 03/25/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-72189-9
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7569-5742-1
Open Ebook - 120 pages - 978-1-4000-7585-0
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