Books by Elizabeth Graver

Released: March 5, 2013

"A lovely family portrait: elegiac yet contemporary, formal yet intimate."
This multigenerational story of a privileged family's vacations on Massachusetts' Buzzards Bay is as much about the place as the people. Read full book review >
AWAKE by Elizabeth Graver
Released: April 7, 2004

"A misstep in a fine writer's otherwise impressive career. Wait for Graver's next one."
Graver's earnest third novel (after The Honey Thief, 1999, etc.) records the ordeals, and multiple "awakenings," of a family tested by incurable childhood illness. Read full book review >
UNRAVELLING by Elizabeth Graver
Released: Aug. 14, 1997

A Drue Heinz winner for her stories (Have You Seen Me?, 1991), Graver offers a debut novel about a 19th-century New Hampshire farm girl who goes off to the fabric mills of Lowell, Mass., finds herself pregnant and abandoned † la Tess Durbeyfield, then returns home to live a life of remorse and penance ever after. When her first child was born in 1829, Aimee's mother picked the baby's name from a magazine called The Ladies' Pearl. And with the name came early beauty, a quick mind, very stubborn disposition, and extraordinarily passionate temperament. By the time Aimee, at 15, implores her parents to let her go off to the mills, she's already come close to bursting with her new sexuality, has lusted after an itinerant mill-agent, and, in the hayloft, has had an innocent enough—to modern eyes and ears—sexual experience with her tubercular brother Jeremiah that like a memory of sin will stay with her (not altogether convincingly) all her life. Jeremiah's death soon after brings an inconsolable sense of loss to Aimee that's more than compounded when she delivers twins who are whisked off at once to waiting foster parents, never to be seen again. The author, luckily, paints this melodrama on a cloth made sturdily from the actual detail and texture of real 19th-century life, both at the mills and down on the farm—where Aimee, as scandalous to the town as a Hester Prynn (albeit without her Pearl), nurses her grief in a 12-by-12-foot bogside cabin on the edge of her parents' land. There, the years will pass; eremite Aimee's only two friends, each also crippled in one way or another, will become her symbolic husband and child; and the novel—trudging increasingly as it nears its close—will mete out the healing years. A familiar old tale told by an author who doesn't make it new, but much of the time makes it lovely, vivid, and touching. (Quality Paperback Book Club selection; $50,000 ad/promo) Read full book review >
HAVE YOU SEEN ME? by Elizabeth Graver
Released: Sept. 1, 1991

Winner of the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, selected this year by Richard Ford: a first collection of ten stories notable for their lyrical accounts of children and young adults managing to survive emotionally in an unstable or painful world. Graver's rehearsals of reality are not always convincing, but they're lovely when they work. Many of the pieces develop according to a theme made explicit in ``The Blue Hour'': ``But sometimes, through a hitch in the mechanism, people stumble upon each other, though the circumstances do not match at all.'' In ``The Boy Who Fell Forty Feet,'' for instance, Graver renders an affecting account of a boy who wanders through the city with the knowledge that his father is dying; a chance encounter at a construction site teaches him to face the fierce uncertainty of circumstance. In the title story, Willa, who lives with her divorced mother (who ``expected the end of the world''), gets to know a blind child and learns about survival. Likewise, ``Music for Four Doors'' places a pregnant woman on the same neighborhood block with a man who's autistic; for the woman, observing and then getting to know the man is an education. In ``Around the World,'' it's the narrator who's afflicted, with an ``untraceable dislodged nerve'' that severely limits her activities. She lives through crying jags to sail in her imagination: ``How painful to see people fooling themselves. In my farthest reaches I go where I have no weight, where weight means nothing....'' The stories here that don't work tend to be arch (``The Body Shop'') or shapeless (``The Experimental Forest''). Even the failures, though, have their lyrical charms. Some of these first appeared in Seventeen, Southern Review, and Street Songs. Read full book review >