Rodin's Debutante

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Tommy Ogden, a Gatsbyesque character living in a mansion outside robber-baron-era Chicago, declines to give his wife the money to commission a bust of herself from the French master Rodin and announces instead his intention to endow a boys’ school. Ogden’s decision reverberates years later in the life of Lee Goodell, whose coming of age is at the heart of Ward Just’s emotionally potent new novel. 

Lee’s life decisions—to become a sculptor, to sojourn in the mean streets of the South Side, to marry into the haute-intellectual culture of Hyde Park—play out against the crude glamour of midcentury Chicago. Just’s signature skill of conveying emotional heft with few words is put into play as Lee confronts the meaning of his four years at Ogden Hall School under the purview, in the school library, of a bust known as Rodin’s Debutante. And, especially, as he meets again a childhood friend, the victim of a brutal sexual assault of which she has no memory. It was a crime marking the end of Lee’s boyhood and the beginning of his understanding—so powerfully under the surface of Just’s masterly story—that how and what we remember add up to nothing less than our very lives.
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About the author

WARD JUST's novels include Exiles in the Garden, Forgetfulness, the National Book Award finalist Echo House, A Dangerous Friend, winner of the Cooper Prize for fiction from the Society of American Historians, and An Unfinished Season, winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award and a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.

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3.0
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Additional Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Published on
Mar 1, 2011
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780547504209
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Ward Just
"The winter of the year my father carried a gun for his own protection was the coldest on record in Chicago." So begins Ward Just's An Unfinished Season, the winter in question a postwar moment of the 1950s when the modern world lay just over the horizon, a time of rabid anticommunism, worker unrest, and government corruption. Even the small-town family could not escape the nationwide suspicion and dread of "the enemy within." In rural Quarterday, on the margins of Chicago's North Shore, nineteen-year-old Wilson Ravan watches as his father's life unravels. Teddy Ravan -- gruff, unapproachable, secure in his knowledge of the world -- is confronting a strike and even death threats from union members who work at his printing business. Wilson, in the summer before college, finds himself straddling three worlds when he takes a job at a newspaper: the newsroom where working-class reporters find class struggle at the heart of every issue, the glittering North Shore debutante parties where he spends his nights, and the growing cold war between his parents at home. These worlds collide when he falls in love with the headstrong daughter of a renowned psychiatrist with a frightful past in World War II. Tragedy strikes her family, and the revelation of secrets calls into question everything Wilson once believed.
From a distinguished chronicler of American social history and the political world, An Unfinished Season is a brilliant exploration of culture, politics, and the individual conscience.
Anthony Doerr
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).
Ward Just
“A doggedly restrained character study that advances its themes obliquely through atmosphere and tone.  Often, the effect is quietly, even elegiacally beautiful, evoking the rhythms of Ernest Hemingway’s early fiction . . . A quietly affecting, mournful achievement.” — Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
Ned Ayres has never wanted anything but a newspaper career. His defining moment comes early, when Ned is city editor of his hometown paper. One of his beat reporters fields a tip: William Grant, the town haberdasher, married to the bank president’s daughter and the father of two children, once served six years in Joliet. The story runs—Ned offers no resistance to his publisher’s argument that the public has a right to know. The consequences, swift and shocking, haunt him throughout a long career until eventually, as the editor of a major newspaper in post-Kennedy-era Washington, DC, Ned has reason to return to the question of privacy and its many violations—the gorgeously limned themes running through Ward Just’s elegiac and masterly new novel.
 
“In Just’s hands, the ambiguous motives behind the paper’s pursuit of the story are riveting . . . The novel stands on Just’s memorable study of Ned. Your heart goes out to this kindly, complex man who’s ‘not truly interested in the things of his own life, preferring the lives of others.’” — Seattle Times
 
Praise for American Romantic 
 
“If Ward Just were a painter, he might be a figurative artist like Stone Roberts, whose Old Masterly polish gives his contemporary images a spooky resonance. American Romantic, Mr. Just’s eighteenth novel over four decades, is an excursion into the near past—this time, the early days of the war in Vietnam—that leads to wise and elegiac recognition of the fading of American confidence and competence in ordering an unruly world.” — Wall Street Journal

Praise for Ward Just
 
“A master American novelist.” — Vanity Fair
 
“[Just’s] vision of the people who run the world on our behalf is, for all their conventionality, the most profoundly subtle and, in its insight, the most radical.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“There comes a moment . . . when a reader is brought up short by how spectacularly well Ward Just writes fiction . . . Its effect is nearly explosive.” — Boston Globe
 
“Masterpieces of balance, focus, and hidden order . . . his stories put him in the category reserved for writers who work far beyond the fashions of the times.” — Chicago Tribune 
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