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Description - The Third Child by Marge Piercy

The internationally renowned novelist and poet creates a very contemporary version of the story of Romeo and Juliet set in the twin realms of college and national politics. In the prominent political family of the Dickensons, ambition comes first, and Melissa, the third child, has always felt she came last. Going away to college offers a chance at love and a life free from her brilliant mother's constant scrutiny. Blake, a child of mixed race and apparently unknown parentage, has been raised by lawyers whose defence of death row cases has brought them into fierce dispute with Melissa's father, now a senator, then governor of Pennsylvania. When Melissa meets Blake at College, their passion is immediate. Yet Blake is keeping a dangerous secret from Melissa, one that could destroy both them and their families. Dealing with themes of love, honesty, identity and the consequences of ambition, this thoughtful beautifully written story is a page turner with an edge.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780749934217
ISBN-10: 0749934212
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 352
Imprint: Piatkus Books
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 18-Dec-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions - The Third Child by Marge Piercy

Book Reviews - The Third Child by Marge Piercy

US Kirkus Review » The message of the prolific Piercy's latest (Sleeping With Cats: A Memoir, 2002, etc.) seems to be that conservative politicians make bad parents as well as bad leaders. After a stint as governor of Pennsylvania, Dick Dickenson has begun his first term as a senator and has eyes on the White House. If Dick has the requisite charm and charisma, his wife Rosemary, a cross between Nancy Reagan and Lady Macbeth (or Hillary Clinton), has the brains. Neither has much interest in third child Melissa. When younger, she tried to win her parents' attention by excelling, but by the time she begins her freshman year at Wesleyan, she merely wants to get below her mother's critical radar. In a nonfiction-writing class where she composes a revealing essay about feeling neglected by her parents, she meets Blake Ackerman, adopted son of anti-death penalty lawyers from Philadelphia. Melissa's brief volunteer stint as an inner-city tutor while in prep school has raised her racial sensitivity, so she doesn't care that Blake is Jewish and part African-American, both no-no's in the Dickensons' WASPy world. As Melissa and Blake's affair intensifies, Melissa is far too interested in her sexual awakening to pay attention to hints that Blake's interest in her father is an obsession. Blake talks in abstract, idealistic terms, but his real agenda is revenge: for political reasons, his father was wrongly prosecuted-and executed-for a police killing while Dick was governor. Melissa, besotted with Blake and resentful of her parents, unwittingly helps get the goods on Dick's political/financial wheeling-dealing for an investigative reporter. When her parents forbid her to see Blake and threaten to pull her out of Wesleyan, she marries him. Then the real nightmare begins. Blake remains an arresting enigma: Does he really love Melissa or is he using her? The rest of the supporting characters are cardboard cutouts. In all: simplistic politics, convoluted plot, and a heroine too whiny and self-centered to pity. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Marge Piercy

Marge Piercy is renowned as both a poet and a novelist and has won the Arthur C. Clarke award. She lives in Cape Cod, US, with her husband, the novelist Ira Wood, and five cats.

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