Nancy Pearl is a beloved fixture of Seattle culture. She is quite possibly America’s favorite librarian. You may have heard her on public radio, or perhaps you’ve read one of her nonfiction books, which offer reading recommendations. George & Lizzie is her first venture into the world of fiction.
Lizzie is a devastated mess after breaking up with her college boyfriend, until she meets steadfast and kind George. Though Lizzie can’t seem to quash her feelings for her ex, and has a complicated romantic past she wishes to keep secret, she and George begin to date. This book recounts their somewhat offbeat love story.
One of my favorite aspects of Pearl’s writing is that she adeptly captures a sense of the ordinary; the little day-to-day personality traits of each character. Take, for example, the character of George’s mom. She hand crafts all their Christmas ornaments, is baking through much of the novel, and is the very picture of a doting mother. In the hands of another author, her character could easily become one-note and stereotypical. However, Pearl takes care to add in little details and character flaws which make George’s mom feel so real and accessible – she tells the same stories over and over again, cracks awful jokes, and is rather lovingly obsessed with dentists.
All of Pearl’s characters are like this, to varying degrees. Each of them have their little quirks and flaws that make them feel like someone you might meet in real life. It did take me a moment to warm to the character of Lizzie, though. She makes a number of questionable choices, and as a result, her character requires a good deal of patience from the other characters in the novel. However, as Lizzie’s upbringing is revealed, it is easy to make concessions for her character flaws. As for George, his character manages to be mostly lovable throughout the book, primarily because he is so loyal in his affections for Lizzie, his family, and his friends.
My only caution is that some readers may take issue with Lizzie’s sexual history. No judgement from my corner of the reading world. Other readers may bristle at the character’s choices, though. If you are someone who cannot overlook a little promiscuity, this is not the book for you.
Then again, maybe you’re someone looking for a little promiscuity in your reading material. If so, you may wish to look elsewhere. Lizzie plays the field a bit, but this book is by no means hot and steamy.
I quickly read this book whilst on a beautiful, lakeside, family vacation. Vacation seems to be the perfect setting for this read. It’s quick, and sweet, comical at times, and only sad for brief moments. Pearl’s character work is rich, which makes for a pleasant reading experience. Perfect for a relaxing day in the sun.