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Louisa Meets Bear
Cover of Louisa Meets Bear
Louisa Meets Bear
A Novel
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When Louisa and Bear meet at Princeton in 1975, sparks fly. Louisa is the sexually adventurous daughter of a geneticist, Bear the volatile son of a plumber. They dive headfirst into a passionate affair that will alter the course of their lives, changing how they define themselves in the years and relationships that follow. Lisa Gornick's Louisa Meets Bear is a gripping novel in interconnected stories from an author whose work "starts off like a brush fire and then engulfs and burns with fury" (The Huffington Post).

Reading Louisa Meets Bear is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, as we uncover the subtle and startling connections between new characters and the star-crossed lovers. We meet a daughter who stabs her mother when she learns the truth about her father, a wife who sees herself clearly after finding a man dead on her office floor, a mother who discovers a girl in her teenage son's bed. Each character is striking, each rendered with Gornick's trademark sympathy and psychological acuity. We follow them over the course of a half century, from San Francisco to New York City and from Guatemala to Venice, through pregnancies, tragedies, and revelations, until we return to Louisa and Bear.

With flawed and deeply human characters, and piercing insight into the lives of women, Louisa Meets Bear grapples with whether we can—or can't—choose how and whom we love.

When Louisa and Bear meet at Princeton in 1975, sparks fly. Louisa is the sexually adventurous daughter of a geneticist, Bear the volatile son of a plumber. They dive headfirst into a passionate affair that will alter the course of their lives, changing how they define themselves in the years and relationships that follow. Lisa Gornick's Louisa Meets Bear is a gripping novel in interconnected stories from an author whose work "starts off like a brush fire and then engulfs and burns with fury" (The Huffington Post).

Reading Louisa Meets Bear is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle, as we uncover the subtle and startling connections between new characters and the star-crossed lovers. We meet a daughter who stabs her mother when she learns the truth about her father, a wife who sees herself clearly after finding a man dead on her office floor, a mother who discovers a girl in her teenage son's bed. Each character is striking, each rendered with Gornick's trademark sympathy and psychological acuity. We follow them over the course of a half century, from San Francisco to New York City and from Guatemala to Venice, through pregnancies, tragedies, and revelations, until we return to Louisa and Bear.

With flawed and deeply human characters, and piercing insight into the lives of women, Louisa Meets Bear grapples with whether we can—or can't—choose how and whom we love.

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About the Author-
  • Lisa Gornick is the author of the novels Tinderbox and A Private Sorcery. Her stories and essays have appeared widely, including in AGNI, Prairie Schooner, and Slate, and have received many honors, including Distinguished Story in the Best American Short Stories anthology. She holds a B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale, and is a graduate of the writing program at New York University as well as the psychoanalytic training program at Columbia. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.More information can be found on her website: www.lisagornickauthor.com
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from April 27, 2015
    Gornick’s brilliantly constructed third novel (after Tinderbox) offers a seamless series of events, spanning from 1961 to 2009, that explore the full spectrum of life in all its bizarre coincidences, tragedies, and passions. Presented as an array of interconnected stories that focus on different characters (à la A Visit from the Goon Squad), with shifting uses of first, second, and third person, Gornick’s book ties together her characters as they undergo experiences ranging from growing up as a pregnant teen with a depressed and distant mother (Lizzy, in “Instructions to Participant”), to finding a soulmate in college (Louisa, in “Louisa Meets Bear”), to facing the uncomfortable sexual urges a father has toward his adopted teenage daughter, who seems to have disappeared during a night’s outing in Venice, Italy (Richard, in “Misto”). The fact that Lizzy and Louisa are cousins, and that the adopted daughter is the baby that Lizzy gave up, typifies Gornick’s dazzling plot construction. But this book is so much more—at its heart is the torrid relationship between Louisa and Bear that, decades later, comes full circle in a remarkably revelatory way. Gornick captures all the heartbreak and joy of what it is to be human. Agent: Geri Thoma, Markson Thoma Literary Agency.

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2015
    In eight loosely constructed stories, Gornick (Tinderbox, 2013, etc.), a psychoanalyst, portrays the small worlds of privileged Americans. Grouped in sections by date, ranging from 1961 to 2009, these stories are linked by relationships: of blood, romance, or chance acquaintance. Feminist issues loom large. In "Instructions to Participant," Yale freshman Lizzy, pregnant at 18, is confused (as readers may be) by her mother's conflicting accounts of why she "stopped loving." In the rambling title story, Louisa, Lizzy's cousin, meets William, nicknamed Bear, at Princeton. This Midwesterner-turned-surfer-turned-banker will forever overshadow Louisa's love life, but their attachment, which compromises all their other relationships, is never convincingly rendered. "Lion Eats Cheetah Eats Weasel Eats Mouse" features Louisa's affair (the cause of her first separation from Bear) with wheeler-dealer Andrew, an NYU law student obsessed with Guatemala. In "Parachute," Andrew's second wife, Marnie, endures morning sickness and existential nausea. (Fourteen years after similarly shocking Louisa, Andrew horrifies Marnie with his callous account of the lynching of a Guatemalan snitch.) One of the more powerful stories, "Priest Pond," illustrates the limited vistas of characters not born to privilege: Bear's sister Charlotte's life is blunted by her husband's decision to choose hockey over college. Brianna, Lizzy's now-teenage daughter, and her adoptive parents exist in a parallel universe to the other characters ("Misto") but contribute little to the theme. In several of the stories, a suicide, suspected suicide, or other melodramatic event substitutes for an earned epiphany. Likewise, heavy-handed symbolism too often takes the place of genuine resolution, as when singing along to "Mrs. Robinson" prompts a mother (Louisa's best friend) to forgive her daughter for stabbing her ("Conchita") or when the dinosaurs in a Manhattan museum signal redemption to Charlotte. Superficial connections devoid of life-giving subtext.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2015
    This latest from Gornick ("Tinderbox") ranges from San Francisco and New York City to Guatemala and Venice in the years 1961-2009, but at its heart is Louisa, a geneticist's risk-taking daughter, who meets wild Bear, son of a plumber, at freshly coed Princeton in 1975. They enter into a passionate affair that shapes both their lives and the narrative, with life-defining moments (e.g., a daughter stabs her mother when she learns the truth about her father) along the way. Extraordinary writing; I fell in love on the first page.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Barbara Hoffert, Library JournalPraise for Tinderbox

    Praise for Louisa Meets Bear

    "Extraordinary writing; I fell in love on the first page."

  • People (four stars) "This vivid portrait of a family unravelling is perfect for book clubs."
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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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