Monday, August 5, 2019

A Wonderful Stroke of Luck

Unpredictable. At the core of Ann Beattie’s novel titled, A Wonderful Stroke of Luck, there is this reality about life: it’s unpredictable. Protagonist Ben was a star at his private school, but has drifted since, not quite living up to his perceived potential. That potential was influenced by a manipulative teacher, Pierre LaVerdere. I know I had teachers like LaVerdere. In college, we called one professor “Flies,” because where there’s shit, there’s flies. It is difficult in youth to discern truth. Lots of characters come and go, each one revealing inner thoughts while being walloped by reality. The nature of life is that things never turn out the way we expect, and Beattie delivers that truth with keen insight in this novel. The title comes from the epigraph and when you read it, you might be quite surprised. It was a great note on which to begin this novel. The reversals in the lives of characters are so frequent that many readers will feel as out of control as Ben himself. And as to LaVerdere, he turns out to be more despicable than I imagined, and when he reenters Ben’s life years after their teacher-student relationship ended, he attempts to reprise his manipulation. Beattie reveals the lies we tell each other and writes with great precision about life as it is: messy, unpredictable and often deceitful. If after the first reading of this novel, you are frustrated or confused, read it again, and its likely you’ll see the skill with which Beattie writes this novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase A Wonderful Stroke of Luck from

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