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Guests on Earth Hardcover – 15 October 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 293 ratings

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (15 October 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781616202538
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616202538
  • ASIN: 161620253X
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.7 x 23.6 cm
  • Boxed-product Weight: 630 g
  • Customer Reviews: 4.2 out of 5 stars293 customer ratings

Product description

Review

[An] elegant historical novel . . . Lee Smith is an assured and accomplished writer, and her use of Zelda as a subject in Guests on Earth is brilliant . . . This is a carefully researched, utterly charming novel. By the time you finish it, you fall in love with these fascinating lives, too. The Washington Post Guests on Earth is a mesmerizing novel about a time and place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, are luminously intertwined. BookPage Indeed, most of the high spirited, rebellious, outspoken women who populate Guests on Earth would not now be considered insane at all. Smith s imaginative, layered story illuminates the complexity of their collective plight to be put in towers until they had no choice but to behave and rescues them one by one. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution [An] engaging and engrossing novel . . . Smith s well-developed characters, rich historical detail and easy prose create a novel that some may call her best yet, and which it just may be. Minneapolis Star Tribune Those who enjoyed Smith s previous work (e.g., Fair and Tender Ladies; The Last Girls) will certainly appreciate this absorbing book, as will those interested in the history of treating mental illness in the United States and fans of Southern or Appalachian fiction. Library Journal With Guests on Earth, Lee Smith shines new light on a shadowy, complex subject . . . She offers a broader historical perspective--and with it, a captivating, inimitable voice. The Raleigh News and Observer Treading the fine line between sanity and insanity, this historical novel imagines the 12 years proceeding the 1948 fire that engulfed a North Carolina mental hospital and killed F. Scott Fitzgerald s estranged wife, Zelda. Ms. Magazine Engaging . . . Touching. Publishers Weekly This is Lee Smith at her powerful best, writing the South she knows through the eyes of a woman who lived it. Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker's Wife In Guests on Earth Lee Smith gives evidence again of the grace and insight that distinguish her work. Her characters are realized with singular intensity, the most vivid interior life, and flawless dialogue. Reading Lee Smith ranks among the great pleasures of American fiction. Robert Stone, author of Death of the Black-Haired Girl and Dog Soldiers"

[An] elegant historical novel . . . Lee Smith is an assured and accomplished writer, and her use of Zelda as a subject in Guests on Earth is brilliant . . . This is a carefully researched, utterly charming novel. By the time you finish it, you fall in love with these fascinating lives, too. The Washington Post

Guests on Earth is a mesmerizing novel about a time and place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, are luminously intertwined. BookPage

Indeed, most of the high spirited, rebellious, outspoken women who populate Guests on Earth would not now be considered insane at all. Smith s imaginative, layered story illuminates the complexity of their collective plight to be put in towers until they had no choice but to behave and rescues them one by one. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

[An] engaging and engrossing novel . . . Smith s well-developed characters, rich historical detail and easy prose create a novel that some may call her best yet, and which it just may be. Minneapolis Star Tribune

Those who enjoyed Smith s previous work (e.g., Fair and Tender Ladies; The Last Girls) will certainly appreciate this absorbing book, as will those interested in the history of treating mental illness in the United States and fans of Southern or Appalachian fiction. Library Journal

With Guests on Earth, Lee Smith shines new light on a shadowy, complex subject . . . She offers a broader historical perspective--and with it, a captivating, inimitable voice. The Raleigh News and Observer

Treading the fine line between sanity and insanity, this historical novel imagines the 12 years proceeding the 1948 fire that engulfed a North Carolina mental hospital and killed F. Scott Fitzgerald s estranged wife, Zelda. Ms. Magazine

Engaging . . . Touching. Publishers Weekly

This is Lee Smith at her powerful best, writing the South she knows through the eyes of a woman who lived it. Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker's Wife

In Guests on Earth Lee Smith gives evidence again of the grace and insight that distinguish her work. Her characters are realized with singular intensity, the most vivid interior life, and flawless dialogue. Reading Lee Smith ranks among the great pleasures of American fiction. Robert Stone, author of Death of the Black-Haired Girl and Dog Soldiers

"

"[An] elegant historical novel . . . Lee Smith is an assured and accomplished writer, and her use of Zelda as a subject in Guests on Earth is brilliant . . . This is a carefully researched, utterly charming novel. By the time you finish it, you fall in love with these fascinating lives, too." --The Washington Post

"Guests on Earth is a mesmerizing novel about a time and place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, are luminously intertwined." --BookPage

"Indeed, most of the high spirited, rebellious, outspoken women who populate Guests on Earth would not now be considered insane at all. Smith's imaginative, layered story illuminates the complexity of their collective plight--to be put in towers until they had no choice but to behave--and rescues them one by one." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"[An] engaging and engrossing novel . . . Smith's well-developed characters, rich historical detail and easy prose create a novel that some may call her best yet, and which it just may be." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Those who enjoyed Smith's previous work (e.g., Fair and Tender Ladies; The Last Girls) will certainly appreciate this absorbing book, as will those interested in the history of treating mental illness in the United States and fans of Southern or Appalachian fiction." --Library Journal

"With Guests on Earth, Lee Smith shines new light on a shadowy, complex subject . . . She offers a broader historical perspective--and with it, a captivating, inimitable voice." --The Raleigh News and Observer

"Treading the fine line between sanity and insanity, this historical novel imagines the 12 years proceeding the 1948 fire that engulfed a North Carolina mental hospital and killed F. Scott Fitzgerald's estranged wife, Zelda." --Ms. Magazine

"Engaging . . . Touching." --Publishers Weekly

"This is Lee Smith at her powerful best, writing the South she knows through the eyes of a woman who lived it." --Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker's Wife

"In Guests on Earth Lee Smith gives evidence again of the grace and insight that distinguish her work. Her characters are realized with singular intensity, the most vivid interior life, and flawless dialogue. Reading Lee Smith ranks among the great pleasures of American fiction." --Robert Stone, author of Death of the Black-Haired Girl and Dog Soldiers

From the Inside Flap

"The insane are always mere guests on earth, eternal strangers carrying around broken decalogues that they cannot read.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald

Evalina Toussaint, orphaned child of an exotic dancer in New Orleans, is just thirteen when she is admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. The year is 1936, and the mental hospital is under the direction of the celebrated psychiatrist Dr. Robert S. Carroll, whose innovative treatment for nervous disorders and addictions is based upon fresh air, diet, exercise, gardening, art, dance, music, theater, and therapies of the day such as rest cures, freeze wraps, and insulin shock. Talented Evalina is soon taken under the wing of the doctor’s wife, a famous concert pianist, and eventually becomes the accompanist for all musical programs at the hospital, including the many dances and theatricals choreographed by longtime patient Zelda Fitzgerald.

Evalina’s role gives her privileged access to the lives and secrets of other patients and staff swept into a cascading series of events leading up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward on the top floor. She offers a solution for the still-unsolved mystery of that fire, as well as her own ideas about the very thin line between sanity and insanity; her opinion of the psychiatric treatment of women and girls who failed to fit into prevailing male ideals; and her insights into the resonance between art and madness. A writer at the height of her craft, Lee Smith has created, through her masterful melding of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart—a time and a place where creativity and passion, theory and medicine, fact and fiction, tragedy and transformation, are luminously intertwined.

Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5
293 customer ratings
5 star 51% (51%) 51%
4 star 27% (27%) 27%
3 star 14% (14%) 14%
2 star 4% (4%) 4%
1 star 3% (3%) 3%
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Linda Horner
4.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful storyteller
Reviewed in Canada on 2 December 2016
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4.0 out of 5 stars Roaming in Descent at Half-Time
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radical reader
5.0 out of 5 stars The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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Elanor Guinevere
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended read
Reviewed in the United States on 27 July 2015
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J. Comer
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel was an excellent read and kept me turning pages
Reviewed in the United States on 16 May 2017
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Sportfish
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy good read
Reviewed in the United States on 2 January 2015
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Pamela A
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not moving
Reviewed in the United States on 29 October 2015
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Joan C. Curtis
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner from Lee Smith
Reviewed in the United States on 23 April 2014
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Dave Schwinghammer
4.0 out of 5 stars Evalina Seems Quite Sane
Reviewed in the United States on 1 January 2014
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mimi of many
5.0 out of 5 stars Lee Smith's best book to date.
Reviewed in the United States on 23 January 2014
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catch22
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a welcome guest! In fact. it can move in!
Reviewed in the United States on 11 April 2014
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Womanista
4.0 out of 5 stars Okay Story, but don't expect a lot of history
Reviewed in the United States on 27 April 2015
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Lynne Blackwell
5.0 out of 5 stars I do not want this book to end!
Reviewed in the United States on 8 February 2020
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Insane are ... mere guests on earth...
Reviewed in the United States on 28 December 2014
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A Rochester
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Reviewed in the United States on 7 January 2014
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