Our Lady of the Prairie by Thisbe Nissen

Our Lady of the Prairie

A sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises—and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad—long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter—grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent ...

Details Our Lady of the Prairie

TitleOur Lady of the Prairie
Release DateJan 23rd, 2018
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
GenreFiction, Humor

Reviews Our Lady of the Prairie

  • Larry H
    "So much of this life we spend holding ourselves together, when all we're really looking for is someone who might undo us completely."Theater professor Phillipa Maakestad is finally settling into her life. Married for years to fellow theater professor Michael, they struggled for years with their daughter, Ginny, who suffered from mental illness and drug addiction. But now Ginny has finally stabilized, and is set to marry a young man she has known...
  • Jay Nicorvo
    FULL DISCLOSURE: The author of this novel deigned to marry me about a decade ago, so I'm eagerly biased, but the reason she said "I do" was because of my very eager biases.With that out of the way, OUR LADY OF THE PRAIRIE, a dozen years in the making, is the best, most ambitious fiction Thisbe Nissen has ever written — she's already written outstanding, amazingly ambitious fiction — and I've had the great pleasure, and greater privilege, of r...
  • Janet
    Bitingly funny while also being very thought-provoking, Thisbe Nissen's OUR LADY OF THE PRAIRIE will appeal to fans of WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? who may identify with a protagonist who is at a crossroads and has to decide what sort of life she wants to lead.
  • Dottie
    Written with a keen wit and clever turn of phrase, Thisbe Nissen’s Our Lady of the Prairie looks at what happens when a 50 year old woman with a life that looks like it will finally be stable after years of upheaval with a very challenged daughter discovers the “love of her life” and jumps into an affair with all the enthusiasm of a teenager who has just discovered sex. Set in Ohio during the campaign for George W. Bush’s second term, the...
  • Mithila Menezes
    When I picked this book up, I felt that it would not be my cup of tea. The start of the story felt a bit bumpy, and I couldn't wait to DNF the book. But, this book was featured in Chicago Review of Books's "Most Anticipated Reads of 2018", and I wanted to plough through the book and figure out what made it "anticipated". And I'm happy to tell you, that I started my January reading spree with a well-written book. A book with memorable quotes, so-...
  • Tess
    This wonderful quirky, funny, and ambitious novel was a surprise delight from author Thisbe Niseen. The protagonist, Phillipa Maakestad, is a rich and truly human character. Nissen’s writing made me feel like she was a friend confiding in me her deepest secrets, all tinged with laugh out loud wit. She is one of my favorite characters of recent memory, and I was sad to turn the last page and say goodbye to her. The story whirls around Phillipa...
  • Kirsten
    what a treat to read another thisbe nissen novel -- her characters are sharply drawn and achingly human. this story rings true as both a family drama and (near and far) historical fiction. and i am 100% in favor of magnificent perimenopausal heroines in contemporary fiction.
  • Natalie
    OUR LADY OF THE PRAIRIE is a rich, beautifully written novel about Philippa, during a year of crisis and metamorphosis. Nissan begins the novel with unexpected tornado on the day of her daughter's wedding, just a symbol of the change that has blown up her complex life.Like Joan Ashby, in THE RESURRECTION OF JOAN ASHBY, Philippa faces the loss of self within the complexities of parental love. The complicated relationship she has with her daughter,...
  • Peebee
    From the description, I thought I would really enjoy this book, but it was really kind of a trainwreck. I'm the same age as the protagonist Philippa, so it seemed like the kind of "hen lit" that I've aged into, and it was billed as a funny book. But it was rather depressing instead. Philippa is all over the map with her relationships, her family, and what she wants out of life -- fairly typical mid-life crisis, I guess -- but reading about how sh...
  • Dorothy Hodder
    I love this midlife crisis-navigating character Phillipa, stubbornly constructing stories around everything author Thisbe Nissen throws in her path: "I'm no longer sure which lines here are ones I've drawn myself to connect the stars in that vast dark sky to try to make a picture . . ." [p 250] Phillipa teaches musical theater at the University of Iowa. She feels she hasn't had a distinguished career and she's phoning her work in as she muddles t...
  • Emily Klein
    This book was so beautifully written - it was both a pleasure to read as well as this incredibly crafted story. Always finding the right balance of humor and seriousness, the main character's struggles to contain the increasingly out of control pieces of her life, set in the backdrop of the Bush/Kerry election. I so felt her "what if's"... I have to say that although I was unsure about the middle narrative at first it ended up being one of my fav...
  • SundayAtDusk
    This novel starts off with the before, during and after story of protagonist Phillipa being spanked by her husband, after she confesses to cheating. Next, she starts to describe all the dainty details of her daughter's upcoming marriage ceremony. By page 45, I quit reading. As I saw it, since I wouldn't listen to a person in-person talk on and on in such an insipid way, why should I continue reading the insipid internal dialogue of a protagonist ...
  • Alicia
    http://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2017/12...Literary novels about middle aged academics having affairs have never been something I was particularly interested in, but this one grabbed me—at first—with its strong narrative voice. The fact that the narrator is a middle aged Jewish woman theater professor also made this feel a bit fresher, plus the first half of the novel turns on her mentally ill daughter's marriage to an Amish man—so a lot of ba...
  • Yvonne
    You can read my review of this book in the February issue of The Brooklyn Rail.
  • Kate Vane
    In the opening pages of Our Lady of the Prairie the author throws a whole lot at you – and it escalates from there. Phillipa Maakestad is due to drift into contented late-middle age. She has a career as a professor teaching musical theatre, a stable marriage and her daughter has found equilibrium – and a fiancé – after years of psychiatric problems. Then Phillipa starts an affair, leaves her husband and throws everything into disarray.What...
  • Liz
    http://cavebookreviews.blogspot.com/The title of the book, Our Lady of the Praries, is the same as the name of a church in Iowa where the protagonist, Phillipa, lives. The title also could be a sarcastic description of Phil as she seems to be the stereotypical female martyr, a woman who gives up everything for the sake of others. We all know the type. Phil takes care of everyone, her daughter, her husband, her students at U of I, her mother-in-la...
  • Amelia
    So this is a creative mix of following this theatre professor through the upheaval of a year or so of her life, including her failing marriage to another theatre professor, her often very ill adult daughter, the drama of the daughter's upcoming marriage, meeting a new lover who is also in academia, interacting with the Amish community and other locals, and her mysterious and cranky mother in law. It's a cornucopia of all sorts of characters!Becau...
  • Nancy
    Phillipa Maakestad is having a mid-life crisis and she takes us on a ride that's often wacky and weird, but keeps your attention, for the most part. While teaching a semester at a college in Ohio, Phillipa seems to fall madly in love with Lucius, a history professor with three marriages and divorces under his belt. Right after starting the affair, Phillipa confesses all to her husband and their marriage slowly unravels, in the middle of all kinds...
  • Sharon May
    Thanks so much to NetGalley, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Thisbe Nissen for the opportunity to read and review this novel!This is the story of Phillipa - a middle-aged woman who works with her husband in the theater department at the University of Iowa. They raised a troubled daughter, Ginny, who finally after some electric shock treatments is beginning to move on with her own life. They have had to deal with a crotchety mother-in-law, whom Phi...
  • Catherine Sumner
    Although I liked parts of this book -- and the parts I liked, I liked a lot -- ultimately I think there was just too much going on here. I think I would have really liked a version of this book that focused on the dissolution of Phillipa's marriage, her affair, and uncovering the secrets of her mother-in-law's past and her husband's family. But the past secrets were only ever resolved in an extended fantasy sequence, and then the author also thre...
  • Diane Payne
    At first, I wasn't sure I'd get through this novel because it was beginning to feel like a romance novel, which I have a hard time tolerating. Fortunately, the novel moved on to the main character's daughter and her world so we were given a reprieve from the 50 year old mother and her obsession with her lover. I'm not sure why the author included so much info about seeking the genealogy of her mother-in-law, even though the info awkwardly returne...
  • Roz
    I loved this book; narcissistic, annoying main character Phillipa Maakestad and all. The writing is great and funny and pulls you along, finessing the humor and the pain brilliantly. I'd give it five stars but for one big issue (and really it's a bad editing decision): the big chunk in the middle that's the wartime dream(?) sequence. It's gratuitious, irrelevant to the story, and worst of all, almost dislocated me totally from my connection with ...
  • Kathleen Gray
    I tried but I just couldn't find my footing in this novel. I felt like I was dropped in in the middle at the start of the book and things never improved. Phillipa wasn't unappealing but I truly did not understand her. Moreover, the spanking incident was just weird. Unusually for me, I put it down, read some reviews and then went back to it, thinking that perhaps I was mistaken but no, I wasn't missing something- it wasn't for me. I DNF. Thanks to...
  • Morgan Schulman
    Received a prepublication copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review so here goes- this is a very witty lighthearted book about serious topics. Sex, desire, aging, family, marriage, politics, parenting, natural disasters, it’s all in here. The writing is quite clever. But perhaps the tone is a bit too light to truly connect the reader emotionally to the characters and their struggles.
  • Leslie
    My thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. There is a lot to love about this novel, but, ultimately, I found it frustrating. Nissen does a great job capturing the voice of a middle aged woman who unexpectedly falls in love while she is a visiting professor, throwing her whole life into upheaval. She is a rather unlikable, annoying narrator who is aware of her own selfishness, but she is also quite amusing and ...
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    Gorgeous writing a story that brings you into Phillipa’s life. A life that should be simple but every step of the way she complicates. From a difficult daughters wedding with a tornado warning thrown in.Her long marriage to Michael and then she has an affair.A charming wonderful page turner.Highly recommend to all who love literature, Thanks @HMH & NetGalley for advance readers copy
  • Donna Foster
    Story was slow, twisted and filled with fractured relationships.
  • Carrie
    Just okay. I wasn't crazy about the protagonist and the WWII dream sequence was...weird.