In her debut novel, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and wife of actor Daniel Day-Lewis considers a woman’s struggle to maintain a sense of self while married to a larger-than-life, ultra-successful man.
Fifty-year-old Pippa has spent the last 30 years nurturing her much older husband, esteemed independent publisher Herb Lee, and her beloved twins, law student Ben and news photographer Grace, whose independent spirit Pippa has fostered at an emotional cost to herself. When Herb sells their apartment on Gramercy Park to move to the Marigold Village retirement community in Connecticut, Pippa willingly sacrifices her comfort for his sake, as she always has. She thinks she is adapting to the imposed change of pace until she begins sleepwalking and behaving uncharacteristically while unconscious, even sleep-driving to the nearby convenience store for cigarettes she thought she quit smoking years ago. Cut to Pippa’s childhood before she became a stylish yet devoted wife and mother. The only daughter, after four boys, of a small town Episcopalian minister and a mother addicted to Dexedrine, Pippa was sexually precocious and rebellious. Caught as a teen in an affair with a local teacher, she ran away to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Trish, whose lesbian lover introduced Pippa to sado-masochism. For three years, Pippa drifted around the Village bohemian scene. She met Herb through his art-buying second wife Gigi. Herb and Pippa began an intense May-September romance and married after Gigi’s suicide. They have been living happily ever since until—cut back to the present—Pippa discovers 80-year-old Herb may not be too old to cheat on her.
Miller (stories: Personal Velocity, 2001) has produced the “easy read of quality” that her protagonist’s husband Herb claims is publishing gold.