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In this funny and chilling novel, the setting is a small town in
the 1940s Midwest, and the subject is the heart of a wounded and
ferociously moralistic young woman, one of those implacable
American moralists whose "goodness" is a terrible disease.
When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure
of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to
reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying
herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her
hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising
work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety,
yearning, and discontent that is at once pitiless and