The World Below by Sue Miller

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From the author of While I Was Gone, a stunning new novel that showcases Sue Miller's singular gift for exposing the nerves that lie hidden in marriages and families, and the hopes and regrets that lie buried in the hearts of women.

Maine, 1919. Georgia Rice, who has cared for her father and two siblings since her mother's death, is diagnosed, at nineteen, with tuberculosis and sent away to a sanitarium. Freed from the burdens of caretaking, she discovers a nearly lost world of youth and possibility, and meets the doomed young man who will become her lover.

Vermont, the present. On the heels of a divorce, Catherine Hubbard, Georgia's granddaughter, takes up residence in Georgia's old house. Sorting through her own affairs, Cath stumbles upon the true story of Georgia's life and marriage, and of the misunderstanding upon which she built a lasting love.

With the tales of these two women--one a country doctor's wife with a haunting past, the other a twice-divorced San Francisco schoolteacher casting about at midlife for answers to her future--Miller offers us a novel of astonishing richness and emotional depth. Linked by bitter disappointments, compromise, and powerful grace, the lives of Georgia and Cath begin to seem remarkably similar, despite their distinctly different times: two young girls, generations apart, motherless at nearly the same age, thrust into early adulthood, struggling with confusing bonds of attachment and guilt; both of them in marriages that are not what they seem, forced to make choices that call into question the very nature of intimacy, faithfulness, betrayal, and love. Marvelously written, expertly told, The World Below captures the shadowy half-truths of the visible world, and the beauty and sorrow submerged beneath the surfaces of our lives--the lost world of the past, our lost hopes for the future. A tour de force from one of our most beloved storytellers.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Sue Miller

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Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels Lost in the Forest, The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Published November 6, 2001 by Ballantine Books. 303 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The World Below

Kirkus Reviews

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But real life, with its mixture of compromise and unexpected satisfactions, intrudes, and Catherine, like Georgia, must return to a more intractable home when her daughter goes into early labor.

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The New York Times

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The novel's daring lies in Miller's use of two women at the center of the narrative: Catherine Hubbard, twice divorced mother of three, the first-person voice of life in the present, and her grandmother, Georgia Rice Holbrooke, the voice of a past time who, after Catherine's discovery of the dead...

Oct 07 2001 | Read Full Review of The World Below

Publishers Weekly

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As Catherine sorts through her grandmother's life, she also sorts through her own: her mother's death, her two marriages, her boyfriends and her children.As readers have come to expect, Miller limns contemporary life in deft, sure strokes, with an unerring ear for the way parents and children talk;

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Star Tribune

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A middle-aged woman looks back on her life and that of her grandmother in a novel that compellingly evokes the past, but never quite comes to life in the present.

Oct 06 2001 | Read Full Review of The World Below

Book Reporter

Georgia, whose story is relayed to us bit by bit, is as perfect a literary creation as any character can be --- and Miller, because she takes her time to reveal little by little Georgia's haunted past, keeps the reader so completely involved that they won't be able to put this book down for a mom...

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of The World Below

Entertainment Weekly

These slender books would somehow let me piece together too what lay under the later loving surface of my grandparents' lives together.'' It is a mystery that Cath seeks to unspool: What happened in those months of 1919, after Dr. Holbrooke (who'd later be Cath's grandfather) banished lively ...

Oct 17 2001 | Read Full Review of The World Below

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