Whanganuilibrary.com
Normal view MARC view ISBD view

The scenic route : a novel / Binnie Kirshenbaum.

By: Kirshenbaum, Binnie.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York : Harper Perennial, 2009Edition: First edition.Description: 317 pages ; 21 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780060784744 (pbk.); 0060784741 (pbk.).Subject(s): Women -- Fiction | Self-actualization (Psychology) -- Fiction | Americans -- Europe -- Fiction | Friendship -- Fiction | Self-actualization -- FictionGenre/Form: Psychological fiction. | Romance fiction. | Humorous fiction.DDC classification: Free Fiction Subject: "Divorced, alone, and unexpectedly unemployed, Sylvia Landsman flees to Italy, where she meets Henry, a wistful, married, middle-aged expatriate. Taking off on a grand tour of Europe bankrolled with his wife's money, Henry and Sylvia follow a circuitous route around the continent - as Sylvia entertains Henry with stories of her peculiar family and her damaged friends, of dead ducks and Alma Mahler. Her narrative is a tapestry of remembrances and regrets - and her secret shame: a small, cowardly sin of omission. Yet when the opportunity arises for Sylvia and Henry to do something small but brave, the refrain "if only" returns to haunt her, leaving Sylvia with one more story of love lived and lost."-- Publisher description.
Tags from this library: No tags from this library for this title. Log in to add tags.
Fiction notes: Click to open in new window
    average rating: 0.0 (0 votes)
Item type Current location Collection Call number Copy number Status Date due
Fiction Davis (Central) Library
Fiction Collection
Fiction Collection KIR 1 Available

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Divorced, alone, and unexpectedly unemployed, Sylvia Landsman flees to Italy, where she meets Henry, a wistful, married, middle-aged expatriate. Taking off on a grand tour of Europe bankrolled with his wife's money, Henry and Sylvia follow a circuitous route around the continent--as Sylvia entertains Henry with stories of her peculiar family and her damaged friends, of dead ducks and Alma Mahler. Her narrative is a tapestry of remembrances and regrets...and her secret shame: a small, cowardly sin of omission. Yet when the opportunity arises for Sylvia and Henry to do something small but brave, the refrain "if only" returns to haunt her, leaving Sylvia with one more story of love lived and lost.

"Divorced, alone, and unexpectedly unemployed, Sylvia Landsman flees to Italy, where she meets Henry, a wistful, married, middle-aged expatriate. Taking off on a grand tour of Europe bankrolled with his wife's money, Henry and Sylvia follow a circuitous route around the continent - as Sylvia entertains Henry with stories of her peculiar family and her damaged friends, of dead ducks and Alma Mahler. Her narrative is a tapestry of remembrances and regrets - and her secret shame: a small, cowardly sin of omission. Yet when the opportunity arises for Sylvia and Henry to do something small but brave, the refrain "if only" returns to haunt her, leaving Sylvia with one more story of love lived and lost."-- Publisher description.

8 11 61 62 66 89 96 98 105

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Award-winning author Kirshenbaum (e.g., A Disturbance in One Place) here blends the story of a love affair with one character's recollection of her immediate and ancestral family. While on vacation and with her future plans adrift, Sylvia Landsman-divorced, American, and Jewish-meets Henry, an expatriate living in Europe who also has ample time on his hands. Initial strong mutual attraction prompts these two to begin traveling Europe's back roads together, with Henry at the wheel. During their excursion from town to town and villa to villa, Sylvia relates the story of her life and her family's background. What she reveals is both humorous and at times disturbing. The shifts between past and present can be abrupt and disconcerting, but they become less problematic as the novel progresses. Ultimately, Kirshenbaum seems to be telling us that it is perhaps this filling in of all the gaps, when the future is uncertain, that allows love to grow. Recommended for all academic fiction collections and larger public libraries.-M. Neville, Trenton P.L., NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

It takes skill and assurance to pull off this beguiling narrative-by-digression, a love story-cum-family history-cum-confession of sins, and Kirshenbaum (An Almost Perfect Moment) has both in plentiful supply. A romantic affair begins in Fiesole when narrator Sylvia Landsman, an out-of-work, 42-year-old New York divorcee, meets debonair Henry Stafford, a Southern-born expatriate with expensive tastes and a good nose for wine. At the outset, Henry reveals that he is married to a rich woman who permits his lavish expenditures, and yet Sylvia-cynical, wry and imbued with Jewish guilt-dares to hope that Henry will be the man who changes her life. While the lovers enact a contemporary Two for the Road in his green Peugeot, Sylvia entertains Henry with stories about her eccentric family, meanwhile disclosing her own foibles and hang-ups-including some portents about betraying her best friend, Ruby. Sylvia segues from comedic quips to sad aperAus, and from cultural markers to historical vignettes, finally confessing the sin of omission that ended her friendship with Ruby. What's crushing isn't Sylvia's secret-it's how knowledge hasn't made her wiser. There are no happy endings here; instead, Kirshenbaum delivers capital-T truths. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

After abruptly losing her job, Sylvia escapes New York and flies to Florence. This might sound larky, but she's carrying excess baggage literally and emotionally. She hooks up with handsome, well-off Henry, and off they go, meandering across Europe in an erotic fugue state. They even take the scenic route when it comes to sharing their family histories, skirting inconvenient facts and selecting more picturesque elements. Sylvia is stand-up-comic hilarious, going off on uproarious tangents involving everything from Raisinettes to shampoo, assimilation, and Arthur Murray dance studios, and issuing zingers of startling precision. It's good, droll fun, until pleasure gives way to denial, lies, and desperate measures, and the full implications of their pasts emerge. Not only are Sylvia and Henry fugitives from unloving parents and their own terrible mistakes, Sylvia also carries the indelible wounds of the Holocaust. Absurdly underrated Kirshenbaum is at her darkly comic and boldly encompassing best here, diverting us with hairpin-turn humor while slipping us hard truths about memory and inheritance, betrayal and guilt, and the inevitable end of the road.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2009 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Kirshenbaum's distinctive voice transforms a lightly plotted novel into an enchanting, tangent-strewn meditation on memory, love and luck. When Sylvia (a 40-ish, divorced Manhattanite) looses her job, she decides to visit Italy on a lark. In Florence she meets Henry at a caf, and the two fall into somethingmaybe love, maybe notbut either way, they hop into his car and go. Henry's heiress wife is off in India with her guru, leaving Henry alone, as he often is. With a taste for expensive drink, good food and fancy hotels, he knows how to show a girl a good time. The two have a map of Europe, time and lots of his wife's money to spend, and so as they drive from one cobblestone village to the next, Sylvia tells Henry stories. Many about her peculiar relatives (mental illness is a distinguishing family feature); about her mother's death and her father's new girlfriend; about Raisinets and the many romances of Alma Schindler; about the broken heart of Aunt Semille; about pet cemeteries and war cemeteries and her not entirely terrible childhood; and finally, repeatedly, about her best friend Ruby, who pops in and out of their ongoing conversation about love and life. The novel's first line foretells the end of the romance, so the narrative is a meandering, slightly sorrowful account of two people in love, but not quite brave enough to come up with a plan for a shared future. Lovely prose and quirky observations carry Kirshenbaum's seventh novel (An Almost Perfect Moment, 2004, etc.). Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.