The Lay of the Land Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Lay of the Land

    At age 55, Frank, diagnosed with prostate cancer, still needs to define himself.
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    In the three days of Thanksgiving weekend, 1999, Frank must resolve life-changing issues. His second wife, Sally, has left him to live with her first husband who miraculously re-appeared from the dead.Meanwhile, his first wife, Ann Dykstra, has become widowed and makes overtures towards him again. Rashly, he invites her to join him for the holiday dinner at his seaside home which he purchased when he and Sally married eight years ago. His attractive, 25 year-old daughter, Clarissa, a Harvard graduate, flirting with bisexuality, has moved in with him and helped him choose his most effective cancer treatment at the Mayo Clinic. His 27 year-old son, Paul, from whom he is estranged, is due to visit with his odd girlfriend who has lost an arm.
    Frank, still in real-estate, has gone into business with a young Tibetan Buddhist who now wants to buy him out. Complicating these matters is the undecided election of 1999, when the country still doesn't know whether Bush or Gore will be the next president.
    This 496-page novel journeys from the wealthy New Jersey suburb of Haddam where Frank played out his "Existence Period", unfolded in the second novel, "Independence Day", to Sea Cliff where he lived idyllically with Sally until she left him. Will his cancer be cured, will Sally return to him and will Frank experience an "a-ha"moment, when his future opens up with sudden clarity?
    Events move slowly. The sometimes clueless Frank bumbles along, neither accepting nor rejecting the reality of suburban and seaside life. He weighs the variety of choices available to him.
The review of this Book prepared by Betty-Jeanne Korson

Chapter Analysis of The Lay of the Land

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   dying

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   small businessman Age:    -   40's-50's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   10 ()

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   descript of kissing    -   touching of anatomy    -   lesbians! Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Richard Ford Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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