Cover image for Three women
Three women
Piercy, Marge.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [1999]

Physical Description:
309 pages ; 25 cm
A novel on an unusual household in our day and age, three generations of women living together in Boston. They are a lawyer who owns the house, her ailing mother--the mother had no time for the lawyer before she fell ill--and the lawyer's daughter, unemployed and on drugs.
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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Collins Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Lake Shore Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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Suzanne Blume is not suffering from the empty-nest syndrome. Her life has never been more rewarding. The divorced mother of two grown daughters, she teaches law, has a thriving private practice, and, best of all, has been flirting online with a man she has never met.

But her neat, buttoned-up life starts to unravel when her daughter Elena returns home, angry and unemployed, and her safe online boyfriend materializes on her doorstep. Then, the biggest challenge of all: Her independent mother, Beverly--still vital, still working, still involved with men and politics with equal passion--suffers a stroke and can no longer care for herself.

This is the story of three women: Beverly, whose strong will is suddenly frustrated by a broken body; Elena, whose life was split in two at fifteen by a scandalous tragedy; and Suzanne, who must make peace with her mother, her daughters, and herself.Suzanne Blume is not suffering from the empty-nest syndrome. Her life has never been more rewarding. The divorced mother of two grown daughters, she teaches law, has a thriving private practice, and, best of all, has been flirting online with a man she has never met.

Author Notes

Poet and novelist Marge Piercy was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 31, 1936. She received a B. A. from the University of Michigan and an M. A. from Northwestern. She is involved in the Jewish renewal and political work and was part of the civil rights movement. She won the Arthur C. Clarke award. Besides writing her own novels and collections of poetry, she has collaborated with her husband Ira Wood on a play, The Last White Class, and a novel, Storm Tide. In 1997, they founded a small literary publishing company called the Leapfrog Press. She currently lives in Cape Cod.

(Bowker Author Biography) Marge Piercy is the author of 14 previous poetry collections and 14 novels. In 1990 her poetry won the Golden Rose, the oldest poetry award in the country. She lives on Cape Cod.

(Publisher Provided) Marge Piercy is the author of 35 books of poetry & fiction, including the best sellers "Gone to Soldiers" & "The Longings of Women".

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The three women in Piercy's most assured and absorbing novel to date embody three waves of twentieth-century feminism. At the center is Suzanne Blume, a law professor and gutsy appeals attorney, who couldn't wait to get away from her unloving mother, and then, as her own family disperses, discovers how much she loves living alone. Her cozy solitude, however, is short-lived. Her feisty mother, Beverly, a sultry-voiced yet tough-as-steel New York radical who had as many lovers as good causes but no husband, has suffered a stroke. This catastrophe occurs just after Elena, Suzanne's eldest daughter (also born out of wedlock), unceremoniously moves back home. Ravishingly beautiful, she is a lost soul who allows her looks to determine her fate, a strange throwback after the trailblazing of her bohemian grandmother and professionally successful mother. As Suzanne struggles to care for her seriously debilitated mother and moody and directionless daughter, Piercy tells the complex and painful stories of their pasts. Suzanne is far more complicated then she appears, and Elena's unhappiness stems, in part, from a violent high-school tragedy. As magnetic as Suzanne and Elena are, it is Beverly and her heroic struggle first to regain her voice and mobility, and, when that fails, her unshakable decision to die, that dominate this thickly plotted and engrossing novel. Questions of justice always occupy Piercy, who not only writes fiction as a forum for social issues--concentrating here on euthanasia and sexism in the courts, the media, and religion--but also assertively portrays women as our society's champions. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Prolific novelist (The Longings of Women) and poet Piercy once more depicts the travails of single, independent women in a multigenerational story that manages to cover most of the feminist issues of the late 20th century. The three protagonists are Beverly Blume, feminist and civil rights activist; Beverly's daughter, no-nonsense Boston attorney Suzanne; and Suzanne's daughter, the beautiful, misguided Elena. A vigorous New Yorker, 72-year-old Beverly has always put political activism before motherhood. Now crippled by a stroke, she is faced with the humiliating prospect of moving in with the daughter she never had time for. Suzanne, at 49, is already coping with rebellious, troubled Elena, who has returned to live at home after being fired from her job. Suzanne is also worried about her younger daughter, Rachel, who is in Israel studying to become a rabbi. Meanwhile, she is embarking on her first relationship in 12 years, after Jake, a sexy environmental activist she has been flirting with on the Internet, appears in the flesh. Though Suzanne's is the primary voice, the story is told from the perspectives of the other women as well. Elena's past is the most dramatic, marked by drug use, a tragic high school experience and a series of obsessive relationships with the wrong men. As the narrative progresses, the three achieve a new intimacy that is put to the test when a second stroke further incapacitates Beverly. Suzanne and Elena must decide whether to acquiesce to Beverly's anguished pleas for them to help her end her life. Piercy keeps the plot humming with issues of motherhood, Judaism, generational tensions, sexuality, and independence. Her pacing is confident, as usual, and she interweaves the three narrative threads with aplomb. Apart from Jake, who remains an elusive sketch, Piercy's insight into her characters' emotional lives is an accurate reflection of intergenerational tensions. 5-city author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Veteran novelist Piercy has always been adept at weaving stories around her causes, and this novel is no exception. Its protagonists are a law school teacher and lawyer, who has raised her two daughters herself; her fiercely independent activist mother, who has suffered a stroke; and her aimless older daughter, scarred by a teenage tragedy. Because the plot spans three generations, with flashbacks for each woman, the list of causes is long, including labor, civil rights, feminism, abortion, and environmentalism. In terms of plot, the weakest story is that of the daughter, strung out as a teenager on drugs and sex and embroiled in the deaths of her best friends and lovers. A somewhat disappointing effort from an old stalwart, this may nevertheless be in demand among her fans.ÄFrancine Fialkoff, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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