March 31, 2023

Looking Back - The World Below

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

2001 Alfred A. Knopf
Finished on October 20, 2023
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

From the author of While I Was Gone, a stunning new novel that showcases Sue Miller's singular gift for exposing the nerves that lie hidden in marriages and families, and the hopes and regrets that lie buried in the hearts of women.

Maine, 1919. Georgia Rice, who has cared for her father and two siblings since her mother's death, is diagnosed, at nineteen, with tuberculosis and sent away to a sanitarium. Freed from the burdens of caretaking, she discovers a nearly lost world of youth and possibility, and meets the doomed young man who will become her lover.

Vermont, the present. On the heels of a divorce, Catherine Hubbard, Georgia's granddaughter, takes up residence in Georgia's old house. Sorting through her own affairs, Cath stumbles upon the true story of Georgia's life and marriage, and of the misunderstanding upon which she built a lasting love.

With the tales of these two women--one a country doctor's wife with a haunting past, the other a twice-divorced San Francisco schoolteacher casting about at midlife for answers to her future--Miller offers us a novel of astonishing richness and emotional depth. Linked by bitter disappointments, compromise, and powerful grace, the lives of Georgia and Cath begin to seem remarkably similar, despite their distinctly different times: two young girls, generations apart, motherless at nearly the same age, thrust into early adulthood, struggling with confusing bonds of attachment and guilt; both of them in marriages that are not what they seem, forced to make choices that call into question the very nature of intimacy, faithfulness, betrayal, and love. Marvelously written, expertly told, The World Below captures the shadowy half-truths of the visible world, and the beauty and sorrow submerged beneath the surfaces of our lives--the lost world of the past, our lost hopes for the future. A tour de force from one of our most beloved storytellers.

My Original Thoughts (2001):

Not as good as While I Was Gone, but much better than The Distinguished Guest. Jumps around a bit without smooth transitions between time periods. "Vivid details of day-to-day life."

My Current Thoughts:

I don't remember anything about this novel. I've since read Monogamy (just one year ago), and until I read my review for that book, I couldn't remember what it was about either! I wonder what it is about Miller's novels that lack staying power?


  1. I think we (I) read so much that many books that we liked/loved don't stick with us (or, at least, me). I often remember feelings for a book even if I don't remember the details of the story.

    1. Helen, I agree! Especially about remembering the "feeling" about a particular book rather than the details of the narrative.

  2. Unless I really loved a book I don't always remember it. Sometimes I think I read a book and look it up on my blog and find that I didn't, and sometimes I did read it when I don't think I did.

    1. Vicki, this gets more and more common the older I get!

  3. I read a few of her novels years ago and honestly can't even remember if this was one of them! I started Monogamy last year (?) and decided it was quieter than what I wanted to read at the time. Thought I'd go back for it, but haven't yet...

    1. JoAnn, I really enjoyed Monogamy, but don't ask me what it was about, unless you let me peek at my review. :)


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