While I Was Gone by Sue Miller

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A decade ago she put a face on every mother's worst nightmare with her phenomenal best-seller The Good Mother. Now, Sue Miller delivers a spellbinding novel of love and betrayal that explores what it means to be a good wife.

In the summer of 1968, Jo Becker ran out on the marriage and the life her parents wanted for her, and escaped--for one beautiful, idyllic year--into a life that was bohemian and romantic, living under an assumed name in a rambling group house in Cambridge. It was a time of limitless possibility, but it ended in a single instant when Jo returned home one night to find her best friend lying dead in a pool of blood on the living room floor.  

Now Jo has everything she's ever wanted: a veterinary practice she loves, a devoted husband, three grown daughters, a beautiful Massachusetts farmhouse. And if occasionally she feels a stranger to herself and wonders what happened to the freedom she once felt, or how she came to be the wife, mother, and doctor her neighbors know and trust--if at times she feels as if her whole life is vanishing behind her as she's living it--she need only look at her daughters or her husband, Daniel, to recall the satisfactions of family and community and marriage.

But when an old housemate settles in her small town, the fabric of Jo's life begins to unravel: seduced again by the enticing possibility of another self and another life, she begins a dangerous flirtation that returns her to the darkest moment of her past and imperils all she loves.

While I Was Gone is an exquisitely suspenseful novel about how quickly and casually a marriage can be destroyed, how a good wife can find herself placing all she holds dear at risk. In expert strokes, Sue Miller captures the precariousness of even the strongest ties, the ease with which we abandon each other, and our need to be forgiven. An extraordinary book, her best, from a beloved American writer.

About Sue Miller

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Sue Miller is the best-selling author of The Good Mother, Inventing the Abbotts, Family Pictures, For Love, and The Distinguished Guest. She lives in Boston.
Published February 1, 1999 by Knopf. 288 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Biographies & Memoirs, Science & Math. Fiction

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Now, in a richly textured but emotionally cool novel, Miller (The Distinguished Guest, 1995, etc. ) limns a fall from grace and the hard climb back to redemption as a woman tempted to take a timeout from her marriage almost destroys all the good things in her life.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of While I Was Gone

Book Reporter

Miller develops the deep sense of longing that Jo expresses for a time that will never return for her or anyone else.

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of While I Was Gone

Entertainment Weekly

Written in Miller's usual calm, lyrical prose style, ''While I Was Gone'' introduces Jo Becker, a 52-year-old veterinarian content with her sexually gratifying, conversationally compatible marriage to a pastor in a pleasant New England village until she enters a midlife dark woods.

Mar 03 1999 | Read Full Review of While I Was Gone

Brothers Judd

Okay, let's start by saying that Jo/Joey/Lish is perhaps the most dishonest .

Jun 17 2015 | Read Full Review of While I Was Gone


Jo Becker, the central character of this engrossing novel, is a middle-aged woman who has everything: gratifying work as a veterinarian, three grown daughters and a husband even better at talking about feelings than she is.

Mar 01 1999 | Read Full Review of While I Was Gone

Vibrant Nation

While I Was Gone , by Sue Miller, was selected for Oprah’s Book Club, but that’s not the reason I read it.

Aug 09 2010 | Read Full Review of While I Was Gone

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