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When Madeline Was Young

Cover of When Madeline Was Young

When Madeline Was Young

A Novel
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Jane Hamilton, award-winning author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World brings us a rich and loving novel about a non-traditional family in the aftermath of a terrible accident.When Aaron...More
Jane Hamilton, award-winning author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World brings us a rich and loving novel about a non-traditional family in the aftermath of a terrible accident.When Aaron...More
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Description-
  • Jane Hamilton, award-winning author of The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World brings us a rich and loving novel about a non-traditional family in the aftermath of a terrible accident.When Aaron Maciver's beautiful young wife, Madeline, suffers a head injury in a bicycle crash, she is left with the mental capabilities of a six-year-old. In the years that follow, Aaron and his second wife care for Madeline with deep tenderness and devotion as they raise two children of their own. Inspired in part by Elizabeth Spencer's Light in the Piazza, Hamilton offers an honest and exquisite portrait of how a family tragedy forever shapes the boundaries of love.

    From the Trade Paperback edition.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One Everyone when I was growing up had a dog or a brother or a cousin, someone close by, called Buddy. The Buddy in my life had been christened Samuel Schubert Eastman in 1946. Certainly he deserved a dignified name, and yet we boys knew that for everyday use "Samuel" was too grave for a person like Buddy. Our cousin, as heroes must be, was the specimen among us. He was graced with sandy hair, green eyes, a dusting of freckles on his sunburnt nose, and thick gold lashes that matted in triangles against his cheeks after swimming. My mother used to say that his delicate features and those starlet eyelashes in his athlete's body were what confused the girls, the poor things sure he was tender. When he was fourteen, he told me part of what he guessed was a family secret, drawing me in one night with that piece of overrated information, the cheap start, the chocolate with a boozy liquid center. Buddy didn't yet know that there are a limited number of secrets in the repertory, very few of them worth disclosing, most of them good only for the quick thrill of stopping the pulse: suddenly you are not who you think you are. Despite his revelation and his alarming suggestion, it was even then his use of the word "secret" that seemed most vulgar.

    We were sitting on the end of the dock at Moose Lake in northern Wisconsin. The house far up on the hill was not an ordinary Moose Lake cottage, the usual clapboard structure with uneven floorboards and a screened-in porch. No, the Maciver family house was made of granite and oak, walnut, copper, and English brick, a fortress with seven fireplaces and fifteen bedrooms, each with a sink scrubbed clean in the corner. Five of the rooms had their own sleeping porches, with faded cotton hammocks from Barbados strung across, the place the girls napped on the hot afternoons. There was also an icehouse, a pump house, a summer kitchen, a boathouse, and a barn. We were all proud to have an estate, which, we were called to remember, was the fruit of our dead grandfather's labor. That he was related to us seemed implausible--a man who had grown rich manufacturing glue? He had shot a buffalo on the range, the rug in the parlor as proof, but also with that nimble trigger finger he'd mounted and labeled and framed his butterfly collection. We loved to look at the petticoat wings and the sad balding thoraxes, the part that embarrassed us. Our forebear, the captain of industry, the great hunter, the lover of beauty, had been clever enough not to lose all of his fortune in the Depression, had made it possible for us boys of the glue dynasty to spend our days under our grandmother's direction in the boot camp of summer idleness. On her schedule we swam, we played tennis, we fished, and we chopped wood.

    Buddy mentioned the putative family scandal to me one night, after we'd finally been released from the evening game of charades, all of us slow to get my grandmother's Sapphira and the Slave Girl. He and I were sitting on the rough wood slats of the dock, as we often did, moving our feet through the water, Buddy reviewing what had just happened or telling me what we might accomplish next. As if the idea were just occurring to him he said, "Hey! You know Madeline, pretty Madeline!" He was singing her name. "You could feel her up and it's not like you'd be a pervert. And if you knocked her up--say you knocked her up--she'd have a drooling mongrel that looked like you, but there's no way it would be a real half-breed."

    When I didn't answer, he nudged me with his elbow. "What's the matter? You mean you don't know about your"--here he drew out the word, hissing in my face--"sister? She's fair game, Brains,...
About the Author-
  • JANE HAMILTON is the author of The Book of Ruth, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction, and A Map of the World, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and named one the top ten books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, the Miami Herald, and People. Both The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World have been selections of Oprah's Book Club. Her following work, The Short History of a Prince, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of 1998, and her novel Disobedience, was published by Doubleday in 2000. She lives in and writes in an orchard farmhouse in Wisconsin.Please visit her website: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/janehamilton/

Reviews-
  • USA Today

    "Mesmerizing. . . . Bittersweet, funny. . . . Hamilton affirms her status as one of our most magnetic and provocative novelists." --The Chicago Tribune"Among the most graceful and thoughtful writers to work the fertile ground that is the Midwestern family." --The Atlantic Monthly "Utterly elevating and joyful, a long spiritual drink in a parched landscape." --The Washington Post"A study in grace and compassion." --The Boston Globe"Hamilton's new novel is not to be forgotten."

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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