Real People

RealPeopleReal People: A Novel
Alison Lurie
Open Road Media (originally published 1969), 188 pages
Kindle edition, $9.99
Purchased as an Early Bird Books special for $2.99

Real People is a portrait of a group of visitors at Illyria, a fictional retreat for artists and writers. The narrator, Janet, is a writer of moderate success who is also a wife and mother. Although feeling somewhat guilty about leaving her family, she is spending time at Illyria to focus on her writing.

Things start out well enough and Janet is happy to see a friend from a previous visit. Janet and the others enjoy the interaction with each other and struggle with actually doing the work that they are there to do. Quickly, however, things start to fall apart and relationships deteriorate and become tense. The goddaughter of the owner of the retreat plays the role of femme fatale, and has a central role in the deterioration of those relationships.

In the end there is no great climax, and conspiracy theories about the role of the goddaughter in some sort of Dickensian Miss Havisham revenge plot are dismissed.

Real People does not offer anything profound, but it is an enjoyable diversion about the artistic life.

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