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Palladio [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Dee
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In her small upstate New York town, Molly Howe is admired for her beauty, poise, and character, until one day a secret is exposed and she is cruelly ostracized. She escapes to Berkeley, where she finds solace in a young art student named John Wheelwright. They embark on an intense, all-consuming affair, until the day Molly disappears-again. A decade later, John is lured by the eccentric advertising visionary Mal Osbourne into a risky venture that threatens to eviscerate every concept, slogan, and gimmick exported by Madison Avenue. And much to John's amazement, one of the many swept into Osbourne's creative vortex is the woman who left him devastated so many years before.

In a triumph of literary ingenuity, Jonathan Dee weaves together the stories of this unforgettable pair, raising haunting questions about the sources of art, the pain of lost love, and whether it pays to have a conscience in our cynical age.

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Product Description


A vastly impressive book. . . . Dee has given us a full rich cultural chronicle. (The New York Times Book Review.)

Palladio shocks, delights and invigorates. (The Seattle Times)

Pure literary entertainment . . . Palladio has narrative drive and energy, dramatic characters and conflicts, easygoing prose . . . humor and drama. (The Denver Post)

Dee unites a gripping love story with an ambitious novel of ideas. (Newsday)

Refreshing and creative. (Gazette and Herald)

Intelligent and provocative. (Sunday Times)

(A) masterpiece. (Good Book Guide.)

Book Description

From the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling The Privileges.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 613 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Corsair (24 Feb. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004INH5BM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • : Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #280,646 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jonathan Dee is the author of four novels, most recently The Privileges. He is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, a frequent contributor to Harper's, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review. He teaches in the graduate writing programmes at Columbia University and The New School.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Palladio 10 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The two main characters in this book are John Wheelwright and Molly Howe, though there are many others. John is a graphic artist working in advertising while Molly, though she works from time to time, has nothing resembling a profession or career. Their histories are intercut through the opening section of the book and at first it appears they are not connected in any way.

We meet Molly while she is still at school and living with her parents, who have issues which become ever more serious since they never discuss them. Her brother Richard leaves home at the first opportunity, moving almost as far away from the family home as it is possible to get without leaving the United States entirely. Molly babysits and embarks of an affair with the father of the children. Molly's state of mind is well accounted for by the author and, to me, verges on a personality disorder. No matter how close she gets to her various partners she remains a closed book and essentially unavailable. This is magnified by the fact that she prefers silence to talk, presumably because words have meaning and she does not.

Mal Osbourne, one of the partners at the agency where John works, recruits John informally to benefit from his reactions to contemporary art which he buys, not as an investment but to support the artists. The author has a keen eye for what goes on in the art world, though that is not difficult. On a trip round several studios he finds people other than the artists themselves explaining the significance of the art.

`John understood that he was observing the practice of a specialized profession - the explainer, the pre-critic, whose task was central to the meaning of the work itself and not a commentary on it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Facilitator 4 Nov. 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title of this novel refers to a newly established creative advertising centre. That's not quite correct, as Mal Osbourne, seductive megalomaniac and visionary, wants the message to be only indirectly related to the brand. This is satire perhaps, or maybe recognition of an emerging possibility.
But then the cast of characters, young Molly Howe the reluctant catalyst, John Wheelwright the advertising executive, Molly's parents, John's and his colleagues, are all vividly created by Jonathan Dee who must one of contemporary American novelists. Despite the complex plotting, and with minimal recourse to superfluous authorial insights, the pace hardly falters.
The individuals created seem so realistic that questions such as 'would she really have done that? Or, 'how much does he actually care about her?' and, when the author turns to a first person approach 'is that diary note honest?' might occur to a reflective reader. Almost invariably the answer is to accept that, given the context, suspension of disbelief is the order or the day.
Mal Osbourne, the creator of Palladio, seems to be larger than life, that is until one recollects the actual masters of the advertising world and their ambitions once the immensely profitable companies they have created are fully established. Setting up an art gallery is not unknown! The flexible ethics of the young are not unfamiliar. Even the aside that "Like many college campuses these days, theirs sometimes seemed to him like a kind of retirement community for bitter or self-aggrandising old radicals" might prompt a smile of recognition.
There are enough plot summaries without any addition from me. In any event any summary would be misleading and tend to diminish the effect, so my own suggestion is that they should be avoided.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Advertising and Love 29 April 2011
Palladio - Jonathan Dee
Author: Leyla Sanai24 Feb 2011
Palladio by Jonathan Dee

Reviewed by Leyla Sanai

NYT magazine writer Dee's last novel published in the UK was Privileges, which won effusive praise from Jonathan Franzen, Richard Ford and Jay McInerney as well as newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. Palladio preceded Privileges in the US but is published for the first time here this month. Like its predecessor, love is one of the central themes, but sadly the love here is not always reciprocal.

Molly is a beautiful and self-contained young woman brought up in an outwardly respectable home in a quiet US town manufactured around an IBM plant. But beneath the surface gloss, tension hisses as in a capped volcano, most notably from her frustrated mother who resents having been dragged to this dead-end place yet who is simultaneously too apathetic and mired in martyrdom to find a way out. Molly's father's way of coping is to keep up a facade of good cheer, one with which the whole family colludes .

Molly's future is irrevocably changed due to the repercussions of an action taken when a teenager. She escapes to join her brother in Berkeley where he is a student, and there meets John, an art history student.

Years on, when John has been head-hunted by an enigmatic advertising innovator, Mal, Molly and John's paths cross again, picking the scab off John's wound and opening it up to fresh bleeding.

Dee writes with poise and grace, and his prose is marked by great dexterity of perception. He is as at home in the vicinity of teenage girls, whose superior languor he captures deftly (`even in disgust, her boredom was imperial'; `they were...joined by...
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.3 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Riveting. 11 Feb. 2002
By D. C. Carrad - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is everything a novel should be. Although at first glance the subject and characters were far from my usual interests, I was pulled into it and rapidly became entranced by it. It has many dimensions, is flawlessly written and structured, and transforms you. In some respects it is an extended meditation on Jack Kerouac's On The Road, which is central to the theme, but it is hard to characterize the whole book as it is bigger than any simplistic summary. The author understands Madison Avenue, the enigmatic rich, thirty-something bright but warped people, and much more and is able to make them come alive. In many ways this is a sad book. There are five sets of parent/child relationships at all stages of life, from infancy to the death or disintegration of parents in old age, explored in some depth, all different, all seriously flawed and at times heartbreaking. The author needs to break away from the lingering university scene (too much of the book is set at Berkeley, NYU, Columbia, Spokane, and Charlottesville) but this is not irritating as he gently deflates the pomposities of each place and all feel different in his descriptions.
May Dee live a thousand years and write a thousand books every year. Buy it at once; you will not be disappointed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just Sort of Disappeared! 11 July 2005
By A Discerning Reader - Published on
This is a finely wrought novel of love and relationships in the 21st century--with a twist of irony and cynicism. Originating in upstate NY, the story follows John and Molly as their lives collide in an all consuming love affair and the aftermath of Molly's disappearance.

The first story in the novel deals with the unreachable (and unsinkable?) Molly. She is largely apathetic to her life and surroundings, even though she is a femme fatale whom no man seems able to resist. She recognizes her power over men and enjoys eliciting passion and emotion from them, but she seldom has any feelings apart from a gentle curiosity towards those with whom she has sex.

Molly meets John, and she falls in love--albeit in her own way--comfortable in that he demands nothing of her and seems content to spend his life loving her and trying to figure her out. Because she cannot form significant emotional ties to others, even John, she uses her father's nervous breakdown to disappear from John's life--only to reappear in the latter part of the novel that deals with Palladio itself.

Palladio is the company formed with the goal of using art as advertising. There is no pitch to the potential consumer--the company produces art of any kind--be it written or painted, cinematographic, etc. John ends up as a personal executive to Mal, the founder of the company. The idea of getting rid of traditional advertising seems very appealing, and one longs for a world where commercials on television or ads in magazines appeal to our artistic sense instead of trying to "trick" the consumer into purchasing a product.

These two stories come together in a predictable fashion, and the reader is fascinated by the concept of Palladio and whether or not it can succeed with such a bold corporate philosophy. More importantly, we are excited to see if John and Molly can come together again and mend the rift in John's soul caused by Molly's disappearance many when they were young.

Unfortunately, the ending does not prove satisfactory and just sort of fades into a series of bumper stickers the origins of which are unknown to the reader. If there had been a less esoteric ending to this well written and thoughtful novel, I could easily have given it four stars. Dee has a lot of promise, but this would not be a novel I'd recommend to start reviewing his work.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully crafted and accessible = perfection 30 Jan. 2010
By pichon barron - Published on
this book is so well written that the novels i read following didn't have a chance. what is so beautiful and haunting about dee's new novel is the quiet, lurking, lingering feeling of love between two people exclusive of others. not that THE PRIVILEGES is a straight up love story, per se, but more of a study in the juxtaposition of idealized life and realized life. the great thing is this novel isn't a glimpse into a life of privilege so much as it examines the motivation behind having (financial and social) privilege and the choices once you have reached the privileged status. the real guts of the story is the connection and commitment betwixt adam and cynthia morey regardless of their money or status.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart Book 8 July 2010
By J. Bosiljevac - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love the ambition of this book. Although it's far from perfect, it's a very smart book--riding the line between reality and satire and asking a lot of smart questions along the way. And questions are always more important than answers.

The novel starts with two story threads: In the first, Molly Howe, a teenage girl in a small town has an affair with the father of the family for whom she regularly babysits. When the affair is revealed, she becomes a pariah and is shamed into running away. She ends up in Berkeley, where she lives in a house with her brother. In the second thread, John Wheelwright, an art director at a New York advertising agency is invited by one of the agency's eccentric partners to join in a new venture in Charlottesville, Virginia--an experimental enterprise, part advertising agency, part thinktank, part artist collective. Palladio, as the new company is called, essentially re-imagines modern advertising model as a revival of the patronage system, with companies funding avant-garde art projects, placing no limitations or control on the work.

Without giving too much away, the two plotlines overlap in a well-structured story that shifts perspective and jumps around in time. It deals with family relationships, romantic relationships, business relationships, and the relationship between art and commerce. The personal relationships are deep and well thought out, although Dee spends a little too much time psycho-analyzing his characters. In the end, the personal relationships feel like they bog down the book a little. But the interesting part of this book, and the real crux of the story, is Palladio. Dee's depiction of the ego and bombast of the advertising world is spot on. And although the idea that companies would blindly fund experimental art projects would have been slightly more absurd when this book was published in 2002, Dee was somewhat prescient as "content creation" is quickly coming into vogue. Which makes one question the true role of marketing, the nature of "message," and the importance of meaning. All good questions.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That Rare Combo - Conceptual AND a Page-Turner 17 Jun. 2010
By L. Erickson - Published on
I picked this up randomly, have not read Dee's other books, nor was I aware of the hype surrounding him as the 'next Great American author'. In a way, this was good, because I was able to just read the book, without any expectations at all. And for me, it was fantastic, one of the best things I've read in awhile.

It is conceptual in the sense that it encompasses so many themes - contemporary art, the line (or lack of one) between advertising and art, perspective, religion, the subcultures of America, parent/child relationships, sex and subversion, intimacy and more. These themes are represented through both the form and content of the book, and even the characters. This may have been why some reviewers found the characters non-compelling, or the changes in perspective from section to section distracting. Personally, I felt they were brilliant, each laying open another layer to a theme that wouldn't have surfaced otherwise. I feel this book is like a prism - you keep viewing the themes and the story from different angles, first looking through one side of the prism, then another.

From a purely psychological perspective, the ending is not very satisfying - the two main characters don't get together, and no one really gets to ride off into the sunset. But I don't think it could have ended any other way. It's true that the slogans/quotes used in the final section are hard to follow (as one reviewer stated), but they make their point if you spend some time with them, and the whole last section is a natural evolution from the prior two.

I think what really makes this book a worthy read is that it is able to cover so much conceptual territory while still keeping you engaged in the story. I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and I don't think there are that many novels taking on these themes that manage that. So read, think, and be amazed!
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