Edition: Paperback
Sale price$14.00


Published by Counterpoint, 1999 hardcover, 2000 paperback

Language: English

Paperback / Hardcover:  275 Pages


Hardcover: 1-58243-003-9

Paperback: 1-58243-077-2

Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.75 inches


Eleanor Rushing is an unreliable narrator, and the reader has to grow in the knowledge that her history and her current love life are figments of her imagination.

Eleanor Rushing knows Maxim Walters loves her. At the crowded city council meeting, he chooses to sit beside her; from his pulpit, he preaches only to her, a vision in white sitting in the first pew. Soon, he invites her along on a business trip to Nashville, where they make love all night long.

But Maxim sees things a little differently. The distinguished and very married preacher denies his love for Eleanor, but she understands his reluctance to walk away from the plain wife and the narrow path of virtue he chose long ago. Refusing to be refused, Eleanor showers Maxim with gifts and volunteers at the church simply to be near him.

Though she appears to be undaunted, Eleanor is, in fact, deeply troubled. Sparing no detail, she recounts the tragedy that left her mute for four years, and the abuse she has suffered at the hands of her friends and family. Though these memoirs are often at odds with those of others around her, the now-loquacious Eleanor charms us completely until we can't help but become her willing and faithful supporters. In this narrative tour-de-force - at once hilarious and deeply moving - Friedmann gives a memorable look at the willfulness of obsessive love, the caustic mix of money and leisure, and the power of memory to damage the soul.



Patty Friedmann is a darkly humorous literary novelist whose works are set in New Orleans.


“Elegant and unusual.”- New York Times.

From Publishers Weekly

The tart, sassy voice of the eponymous heroine of Friedmann's intriguing and touching new novel lures the reader into Eleanor's chronicle of her obsessive passion for a New Orleans Methodist minister. Flashbacks to earlier events in Eleanor's life reveal a series of tragedies that might have unhinged anyone. They are so outrageous and unlikely, however, that the reader begins to understand that Eleanor is suffering from many delusions, although discovering the extent of her dementia must wait until the denouement. Eleanor tells us that she was orphaned at age 10 when her parents died in a plane crash. Naomi, her grandfather's black housekeeper, sexually molested Eleanor that very night; as a result, Eleanor stopped speaking for four years. As a teenager, Eleanor had an abortion after she became pregnant by her best friend's brother. No wonder that Eleanor has conceived a passion for spiritual leader Dr. Maximilian Walters, whom she pursues with single-minded frenzy. The reader immediately perceives that Eleanor only imagines he cares for her. Establishing the tension between Eleanor's fantasies and reality, whatever that may be, Friedmann (The Exact Image of Mother) controls her narrative artfully, allowing Eleanor to unwittingly reveal her solipsistic self-absorption and arrested emotional development. The deeply screwy assurance with which she pursues Maxim is perfectly logical from Eleanor's point of view; one is reminded of the woman who stalked David Letterman. Friedmann's use of New Orleans atmosphere adds immeasurably to Eleanor's narration; such details as how the mirrors at Galatoire's create an edgy romantic narcissism offer an acutely observant insight into Eleanor's skewed thinking. The skillful interpolation of the issue of black-white relations bears direct relevance to Eleanor's story. Indeed, Naomi's voice, rendered in pitch-perfect dialogue, is one of the book's delights. But Friedmann falters in the character of Maxim; even granted that most of what Eleanor says about their meetings is a product of her deluded imagination, he seems too passive and weak-willed to be a charismatic minister. One finishes the book, however, impressed by Friedmann's wit and her compassion for human frailty. 25,000 first printing; author tour.

Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

What starts as a pulse-quickening flirtationAeyes meeting and hands touching at a New Orleans City Council meetingAturns darker as pretty, wealthy Eleanor Rushing pursues a married Methodist minister. Convinced that she and Dr. Maxim Walters are destined to be together, Eleanor follows him on a business trip, volunteers to work in his office, stakes out his house at night, and eventually runs afoul of the law. Only gradually is it apparent that for Eleanor the line between reality and illusion is blurred and has been since she was ten and her parents died in an accident, leaving her with her grandfather and his black housekeeper, whom Eleanor accused of molesting her. Friedmann (The Exact Image of Mother, 1991. o.p.) has written a delicately balanced, sensuous tale of love and guilt and their consequences that in the end is unbearably sad.AMichele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA

Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

“Brilliant, bitterly funny, and deeply scary.”- Times-Picayune.

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