Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller


SKIP immediately to Part 2. I’ll tell you what happens in Part 1. You can go back and read it later.
Pippa Lee is a madonna, the calm and competent wife of Herb Lee, America’s most famous publisher.
Pippa – still in her 50s – and Herb, who’s now in his 80s, have moved to a wealthy retirement estate known locally as Wrinkle Village.
Their friends Sam (great novelist) and his partner Moira (greatish poet on the lookout for a nicer but still famous man) are their constant companions.
OK, that’s it.
Now for the good stuff, as you turn hastily to page 61, where it goes into the voice of Pippa herself, and plunges into her chaotic, desperate youth.
Hilarious and stunningly sad – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say “Oh, shit, no!” – it’s a roller-coaster ride through the bohemia of the mid-century.
And Rebecca Miller should know her stuff. Daughter of Death of a Salesman playwright Arthur Miller, wife of Daniel Day-Lewis, daughter-in-law of poet Cecil Day-Lewis, she must have spent her youth mobbed up with the literary aristocracy.
Not just literary – heavens, before she was born, her dad had been married to Marilyn Monroe!
So with jaw open, as you’re whizzing through the book laughing and crying, you’re also saying “Who is that?” and coming up with crazed theories.
From the stagey suicide of Herb’s gorgeous first wife to Pippa’s dealings with her speed-freak mother (still giving her baby-bottles at 16). Hmm, hm. Who can this be?
It’s a book that could sadly go unnoticed until it’s filmed – already on the cards, starring Robin Wright Penn, Keanu Reeves and Winona Rider – and then take off. Make sure you’re in before the crowd; you’ll be passing it to your friends.
But skip that first part.

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