A Wonderful Stroke of Luck: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2019 by Vulture, The Millions, and O Magazine

A razor-sharp, deeply felt new novel--the twenty-first book by Ann Beattie--about the complicated relationship between a charismatic teacher and his students, and the secrets we keep from those we love

At a boarding school in New Hampshire, Ben joins the honor society led by Pierre LaVerdere, an enigmatic, brilliant, yet perverse, teacher who instructs his students not only about how to reason, but how to prevaricate. As the years go by, LaVerdere's covert and overt instruction lingers in his students' lives as they seek some sense of purpose or meaning. When Ben feels the pace of his life accelerating and views his intimate relationships as less and less fulfilling, there seems to be a subtext he's not able to access. And what, really, did Bailey Academy teach him?

While relationships with his stepmother and sister improve, and a move to upstate New York offers respite from his anxiety about love and work, LaVerdere's reappearance in his life disturbs his equilibrium. Everything he once thought he knew about his teacher--and himself--is called into question. Written by one of our most iconic writers, known for casting a cold eye on her generation's ambivalence and sometimes mistaken ambition, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck is a keenly observed psychological study of a man who alternates between careful driving and hazardous risk taking, as he struggles to incorporate his past into the vertiginous present.

About the Author

Ann Beattie has published twenty-one books and lives with her husband, the painter Lincoln Perry, in Maine. She is a recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

Praise For…

Praise for A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

"Even if you're not old enough to remember the thrill of reading Beattie's first-ever story to be published in The New Yorker, you'll find that the short fiction master's latest foray into long form is a marvel of wry wit and wisdom."
O, the Oprah magazine

"I would read anything by Beattie."
Lila Shapiro, Vulture (a Most Anticipated Book of 2019)

"How do our charismatic teachers set the stage for the rest of our lives? That's one of the questions that Ann Beattie tackles in this novel. When a former New England boarding school student named Ben looks back on his childhood, he starts to question the motives of his superstar teacher. Later on, his teacher gets in contact, and Ben has to grapple with his legacy."
The Millions (a Most Anticipated Book of 2019)

"[Beattie's] elegantly sculpted tale is both wrenchingly sad and ultimately enigmatic: as usual."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Gimlet-eyed Beattie has created a stunningly unnerving and provocative tale spiked with keen cultural allusions and drollery. This jarring dissection of privilege and anxiety, gender expectations, lust, ludicrous predicaments, defensive selfishness, moral confusion, and numbing loneliness projects a matrix of angst somewhat countered by the solace and sustenance found in a quiet life far from the grasping, hurried, hostile world. . . . Beattie’s literary reign continues apace, thanks to her stealthily eviscerating insights and disquieting wit.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Beattie’s latest novel . . . is riven with hope and humor. . . . [A] postmodernist Greek tragedy. . . . Laugh-out-loud humorous. . . . Beattie [has] a keen ear for not only what is said but also what is left unsaid, often with tragic consequences.”

Praise for Ann Beattie

"Unshakably intelligent, deep-hearted. . . . One feels amazed at the confidence, steadiness, and quality of [Beattie's] writing." —Lorrie Moore, The New York Times Book Review on Park City
"Beattie’s wry voice, intimate narration, and tart characterization remain instantly recognizable." —Christopher Cox, The Paris Review's Art of Fiction interview
"As much as anyone's in the past fifty years . . . Ann Beattie's lifework defines what the short story can do, the extent of human life it can encompass." —Jonathan Lethem on The New Yorker Stories
"Full of echoes and resonant fractures, and so beguiling in its eerie simplicity. I read it twice." —Miranda July on Walks with Men
"A very funny book. . . . If Jane Austen had been crossed with Oscar Wilde and re-crossed with early Evelyn Waugh, and the result plonked down among the semi-beautiful people of late 20th century media-fringe America . . . the outcome might have been something like this." —Margaret Atwood, The Chicago Sun Times on Love Always
"Ann Beattie yet again reveals herself as one of literature's most liberating figures."
Howard Norman, The Washington Post on The Accomplished Guest
"[Beattie] punctures her characters’ pretensions and jadedness with an economy and effortless dialogue that writers have been trying to emulate for three decades, though few, if any, have matched her seamless combination of biting wit and mordant humor, precise irony and consummate cool." —The New York Times Book Review editors on The New Yorker Stories, a Top 10 Book of 2010
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525557340
ISBN-10: 0525557342
Publisher: Viking
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2019
Pages: 288
Language: English