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A Map of the World (Oprah's Book Club) [Paperback]

Jane Hamilton
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1999 Oprah's Book Club
From the author of the widely acclaimed The Book of Ruth comes a harrowing, heartbreaking drama about a rural American family and a disastrous event that forever changes their lives.

The Goodwins, Howard, Alice, and their little girls, Emma and Claire, live on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Although suspiciously regarded by their neighbors as "that hippie couple" because of their well-educated, urban background, Howard and Alice believe they have found a source of emotional strength in the farm, he tending the barn while Alice works as a nurse in the local elementary school.

But their peaceful life is shattered one day when a neighbor's two-year-old daughter drowns in the Goodwins' pond while under Alice's care. Tormented by the accident, Alice descends even further into darkness when she is accused of sexually abusing of a student at the elementary school. Soon, Alice is arrested, incarcerated, and as good as convicted in the eyes of a suspicious community. As a child, Alice designed her own map of the world to find her bearings. Now, as an adult, she must find her way again, through a maze of lies, doubt and ill will.

A vivid human drama of guilt and betrayal, A Map of the World chronicles the intricate geographies of the human heart and all its mysterious, uncharted terrain.  The result is a piercing drama about family bonds and a disappearing rural American life.


Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Books (Dec 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385720106
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720106
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 427,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A powerfully written, evocative tale of guilt, betrayal and the terrifying ways our lives can spin out of control. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

A powerfully written, evocative tale of guilt, betrayal and the terrifying ways our lives can spin out of control. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but harrowing 8 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This novel is utterly absorbing, as a portrait of how the world can be turned inside out for a person by the consequences of a random string of meaningless events. I won't go into the details of the plot here, but I will say that this book is beautifully written, with such clarity and vision that it makes the harrowing stuff even harder to stomach. The only duff point is that the way Theresa speaks sounds unrealistic. Can people really articulate their feelings so lucidly when under such stress? Theresa sounded suspiciously like a self-help manual for the recently bereaved, but that is my only complaint. This book made me realise how easy it is for things to go horrifically wrong for seemingly no reason, and it is not an easy read, but I would still recommend it. The ending is ambiguous enough that I put the book down hoping Alice and Howard would make it, but still not sure that they would.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars TEDIOUS IN THE EXTREME 10 July 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I cannot believe the hype surrounding this book. Although the premise was initially interesting, I found the character of Alice not only extremely irritating, but also utterly unsympathetic in her total self-absorbtion, and Howard a cipher, yet whose story still took up 8 chapters to tell. And as for the character of Theresa - she's just too good to be true. If the editor had done a better job this could have been quite a hard-hitting and moving short story, but as it is, I just could not emphathise with these characters. The fact that this quite short book of just over 400 pages took me about six months to read says it all I think.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant, thought- provoking book 15 Mar 2001
Format:Paperback
From the first paragaph, this book keeps you mesmerised, both with the story line,and the dexterity with which the author steers you through the emotional minefield and compelling drama as it unfolds. Jane Hamilton tackles difficult subjects like grief, guilt, torment,the nature of love and forgiveness with ease and confidence. Her insights and the beautifully crafted prose are breathtaking. I found people to identify with at every turn and I marvelled at the perception and sheer style of her writing. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Long dense story..... 12 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It took a while to get into this book, but this was partly I think because I was reading a rather battered edition which rather put me off from the start! I liked the build up to the drama that starts the story, but found Alice, the main character, quite difficult to empathise with, which made the book more hard going. The story was mainly told from her viewpoint, with the middle section from her husband, Howard's. The setting is in America, and although the farm and its surroundings were in places beautifully described, and the intense heat at the beginning well conveyed, I didn't feel very connected to the whole place itself. The book was quite long and I skimmed the last part to finish it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A short story with numbing padding 27 Jan 2012
Format:Paperback
Reading this book was a roller coaster of page turning frenzy interspaced with tedious boredom. A strong storyline, but so much padding and characters that are difficult to believe in, Alice is such a drippy bore with sort of philosophy that would leave dinner guests glaze eyed, and Terresa just doesn't exist. I have no objection to a simple storyline and padding, e.g. The The White Tiger is like that, but unlike this, it is superbly entertaining.

I got through it - I wanted to know what happens, but slowly as I had no interest in hearing about ... oh I forgot already, yes most of the padding is bad.

PS my wife liked it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So real it hurts 18 July 2007
Format:Paperback
As you read this book you find yourself fighting to stop the inevitable happening, but know that you cannot, that you have no control over the events, that there, but for the grace of god, go you. The exquisite control the author exercises allows this to happen almost imperceptibly; by keeping the narrative sparse she manages to separate the victim from all those around her, isolating her in a way that makes her seem at times unsympathetic and at others a soul to be cherished. The book will not be to everyone's taste, it paints a picture that is all too close to the truth in our society today, where in some matters people are guilty until proven innocent and even after there is innocence has been proven they carry the stigma of the accusations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Life Unravelling.
The Goodwins have never really felt accepted by the local Midwest community. When a child in Alice Goodwin`s care drowns, it appears to be the beginning of the drama. Read more
Published on 7 Nov 2003 by Catriona Takeuchi
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written but overrated
I read this book with much promise having heard rave reviews, but I can honestly say that apart from it being well-written, I wouldn't wish to read it again - my tried and tested... Read more
Published on 13 Aug 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and every child carers nightmare!!
This book is wonderfully well written and a book that keeps you reading until the end. If you prefer books with plenty of dialogue, be warned that there is not a lot in the first... Read more
Published on 8 April 2001 by rachelbrimble@aol.com
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly absorbing but depressing
This is a very good book which kept me hooked until the very end; be warned though - you get so involved with the characters that you find yourself feeling quite melancholy in... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, that you never want to put down
This is a well written book, that you never want to put down. Jane Hamilton has a great use of words, and appears to use them in the right text and they really describe what she is... Read more
Published on 16 April 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent exploration of a friendship between two women.
This story examines the relationship between two women. Their friendship is put to the test when the main character Alice is left minding her best friend's child and the child is... Read more
Published on 19 Mar 1999
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