A Wonderful Stroke of Luck Pdf Summary
A razor-sharp, deeply felt new novel about the complicated relationship between a charismatic teacher and his students, and the secrets we keep from those we love
As a member of the Honor Society at Bailey Academy, one of the most prestigious boarding schools in the country, Ben falls under the tutelage of Pierre LaVerdere, a brilliant, enigmatic teacher who instructs his charges on how to discuss current events, how to think about art and literature, and how to form opinions for themselves. Ben develops close friendships with LaVerdere’s other disciples, and as the years go by the legacy of their teacher and his words remain strong. As Ben moves on, first to college and then to the turbulence of post-grad life in New York City, he comes to feel the pace of his life accelerating, his relationships a jumble, and his career plans in a constant state of flux. What did Bailey really teach him?
After his father dies, Ben develops a curiously close, yet strained intimacy with his stepmother and tries to salvage what he can of his relationship with his sister. A move upstate offers only temporary respite from his anxieties about work and romance and when LaVerdere returns to Ben’s life, everything Ben once thought he knew about the man–and about himself–is called into question. A twenty-first century comedy of manners, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck is a keenly observed work of fiction that shows one of the most iconic writers of our time, once again an astute chronicler of her generation’s ambivalence and sometimes strange ambitions.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 16, 2019
One of the blurbs for “A Wonderful Stroke of Luck” says, “I’d read anything by Ann Beattie.” I feel like I just did. There was lots of dialogue, almost all of it self-precious and pretentious: “I did the wrong thing bringing orchids,” LouLou said, ignoring a glass of wine poked in her direction. Dale shrugged and took a sip. “They’re for lofts in TriBeCa and trendy restaurants.” There was also an abundance of characters, many of them one-night stands of the main character Ben, who, like me, had trouble remembering their names. As for plot and themes, there were several. There was the story of Ben, a privileged private-school student who fails to live up to his potential; LouLou, his school crush who remains his kinda friend for life; and their brilliant (so we keep being told) teacher, LaVerdere, who turns out to be a lech and a schleb. Despite Ben’s admiration, LaVerdere doesn’t say anything to convince the reader of his insightfulness, either as an individual or a teacher. Dale sums it up when she says, “After all I’ve heard about this guy, I still never find him a million laughs.” As for what the novel is about, there are repeated references to the tragedy of 9/11, which occurs during Ben’s school years. There are also lots of descriptions of wealthy New Yorkers and their exodus to the Hudson Valley countryside. And there are endless ruminations about Ben’s failure to launch, which could also be said of the book’s point. Lots of words, but unfortunately, this time round with Ann Beattie, they don’t add up to much of anything.
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 19, 2019
There may have been some lovely writing here, but the lack of a plot made it difficult to keep reading. The characters were unlikable and some that may have been interesting were not written about enough, so we didn’t get a chance to know them.
I was disappointed.
3.0 out of 5 stars Millennial coming-of-age story
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 4, 2019
I’ve been a bit exasperated with the currently fashionable critical focus on “stakes” in books, because it seems to put the focus on plot at the expense of beautiful writing. And then I read A Wonderful Stroke of Luck by Ann Beattie, and all of a sudden, I get it. Because there really is some beautiful writing here, as when Beattie compares a character to “cigarette ash, her grudges tiny, glowing embers waiting to flare” or describes a handshake as “a firm grip with soft skin, like a pillow-top bed at an expensive hotel.” But there are no stakes here at all: the book’s campus novel opening—which introduces several students in a boarding school honors club moderated by the supposedly charismatic Pierre LaVerdere, a teacher who his students almost worship, even though nothing about Beattie’s characterization of him merits this—feels at odds with the rest of the book, which morphs into a coming-of-age story about one of these students, Ben, who is a self-described “withholding” person and therefore perhaps not the best choice for a protagonist.
It doesn’t help that many of the major emotional events in the book—deaths, a suicide, etc—happen offstage, with the reader finding out about them well after the fact from an offhand comment by one or another character and therefore having no real connection to them. Or that the characters themselves are generally unlikable and unmemorable and, even more problematically, cycle in and out of the book irregularly and somewhat distractingly. (Jasper, we hardly knew ye!) The one constant is Ben, but his meanderings through multiple dead end jobs and relationships are more frustrating than compelling. (And why does Ben suddenly hold a grudge against LaVerdere—not that I blame him!—after being so besotted with him in high school—and well before some plot points involving other characters later in the book give him some legitimate reasons to find him repugnant?) LaVerdere himself makes a late reappearance for no discernible reason and is no less a cipher at the book’s closing than he was at the start.
I’ve not read any Ann Beattie before and was really excited to start this book, as I’ve heard such good things about her, so I’m going to assume that A Wonderful Stroke of Luck is just an uncharacteristic miss.
About Ann Beattie Author Of A Wonderful Stroke of Luck pdf Book
Ann Beattie Author Of A Wonderful Stroke of Luck pdf Book (born September 8, 1947) is an American short story writer and novelist. She has received an award for excellence from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and a PEN/Bernard Malamud Award for excellence in the short story form. Her work has been compared to that of Alice Adams, J.D. Salinger, John Cheever, and John Updike. She holds an undergraduate degree from American University and a masters degree from the University of Connecticut.
A Wonderful Stroke of Luck pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information
- Publisher : Viking; 1st edition (April 2, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525557342
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525557340
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.75 x 0.99 x 8.54 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,506,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1,121 in Humorous American Literature
- #14,945 in Humorous Fiction
- #67,937 in Literary Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews: 3.4 out of 5 stars 28 ratings
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