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The Interior Life by Katherine Blake
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The Interior Life (edition 1990)

by Katherine Blake

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1608108,590 (3.87)1 / 13
Member:the1butterfly
Title:The Interior Life
Authors:Katherine Blake
Info:Baen (1990), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Fantasy

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The Interior Life by Katherine Blake

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Susan is perfectly happy as a suburban housewife in 1980s America.Well, perhaps not perfectly happy, or she wouldn't be periodically slipping away into a fantasy life, would she? As long as she keeps it within bounds...

She's periodically sharing the minds of sometimes Lady Amalia, a noblewoman with the Sight, and sometimes her servant and general right hand, Marianella, and occasionally others. She sees what they see, learns what they learn, about the creeping Darkness that threatens the land of Demoura.

As long as she doesn't let her fantasy life affect real life...

Except Amalia, Marianella, and the others provide inspiration, example, and even advice, that affects Susan's marriage, family, social life, and even her budding volunteer career. Susan, her husband Fred, Fred's coworkers, and Susan's friends and PTA associates, are as interesting and sometimes strange as the characters in Demoura.

This is an odd book, hard to describe, and absolutely warm, engaging, fun, and a positive addition to the life of anyone who reads it. It "came out, and immediately went back in again," in 1990, due to the publisher having no idea how to market something this different from their usual fare at the time. Potential readers missed out then, but now the magic of the internet means you don't have to track down a hard to find paperback more than twenty years old. Do so; you won't regret it. Susan and her friends, in Demoura and in the "real world," will brighten your life.

Highly recommended.

I bought this book. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
The first time I read this I was frustrated by the housewifely aspects of this; I've changed a lot about my head since then and now I especially love that part because I can see more clearly the bits that make it clear that the kids being in school make this sudden bout of domestic competence possible; and of course the fact that she rapidly heads well beyond the domestic sphere into politics, and her husband's appreciation of that. And at the same time that the domestic is valued in a way I haven't always.

The fantasy's okay too. It's in some ways perhaps more dated than the computers, and it's very generic; it's the 'real world' that feels most vivid to me, but of course it wouldn't work without the fantasy, and vice versa: the story is in the interaction between the two and that's what I love the most. ( )
  zeborah | Jan 1, 2018 |
Sue, a white suburban 80s housewife with three kids, who are just now in school full-time, starts experiencing the adventures of a psychic and a chatelaine in a fantasy land threatened by the Darkness, with glancing similarities to situations in her own life (though with far more serious consequences for the fantasylanders). The psychic, a high lady, starts giving Sue advice on how to comport herself, including how to dress, what to read, and how to handle difficult situations with her husband’s boss and with the local PTA. Whether Sue is experiencing a break with reality or connecting with another one is never entirely clear. What’s most interesting to me is how extraordinarily historically specific Sue’s life is. It’s not just, or even mostly, that Sue’s plot involves the introduction of “microcomputers” to the school and to her husband’s business. The social relations are much more striking: the background assumptions about what women’s natural concerns are, not just in the essentialist feminism of the local academic couple but also Sue’s own defaults. She’s perfectly accepting of a single woman working—but she also thinks her own husband is one of the good ones because he doesn’t beat her, doesn’t drink too much, and lets her have extra money in order to make the house look better as part of securing him a promotion. Her husband defends her from criticism by saying that not only does the house look great but she’s become better in bed, so he’d support her getting a job outside the home. Maybe it’s the election season in which I’m reading this, but it creeped me out. ( )
  rivkat | Nov 28, 2016 |
A magnificent book I don't read nearly often enough. I've owned it for years and read and reread it several times, but my current read was triggered by the author releasing it in ebook form, from her site (Katherine Blake is Dorothy J. Heydt, by the way). She said she'd updated it a little, but deliberately left the computer stuff alone (it's totally dated, but if she updated it it would be dated again in no time...). The fantasy is a little simplistic - on its own, it would be OK but nothing special (it reminds me of a lot of other stories, from about the same time. Not to mention the fairy tales and classic images that Susan finds as triggers). The housewife story is actually more fun, because Sue's quest is unexpected and quite realistic (you expect fantasy hero(ines) to do battle and defeat the Darkness - watching Sue reinvent herself is more interesting). The modern story also manages to avoid a great many cliches, that loom and fade away. She's a wife and mother and not much else at the beginning of the story; her fantasy - it's never quite clear whether she did make it up or tapped into something real somewhere else; there are clues both ways throughout - gives her energy and direction, and she steps up into several powerful roles within her normal life. She's a guiding light for the PTA; she urges her husband towards learning computer skills, and learns them herself; she neatly deflects a persistent and powerful man, and helps her husband get a better job; she's helpful to a battered wife and an immigrant couple...so many ways in which the old Sue would have looked aside or gone around or flailed, the new one steps up, speaks up, takes action and enormously improves her life and that of those around her. Even the little side romance she helps fits in. It could be taken for a guide to self-improvement as well (Ok, the details wouldn't fit - wouldn't have fit most people at the time it was written. But the general pattern, that's helpful). And that aside, it's an immensely enjoyable story. I'm so glad it's been re-released, and am hoping for more of her work as well. The original book used subtly different fonts for the three different stories; the ebook fonts are more different, more easily distinguishable. Unfortunately the 'fantasy' font gets rather difficult to read - I couldn't easily tell an 'e' from an 'o', and that caused momentary confusion now and then. And that may be partly because of device I used to read it, but it was slightly distracting at times. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Nov 16, 2016 |
I love this book. It has a supremely peaceful quality that makes me return to it when I am distressed or overwhelmed.

Consisting of two intertwined stories, neither of which is exceptional alone, it achieves a synergy that works even after multiple re-readings. It is a book that speaks about the loneliness of "perfect" women's lives without preaching or denigrating them. I don't know of the author meant it to be a feminist book, but it is one in the sense both that women are portrayed as people and in the sense that roles that have traditionally been assigned to women are recognized for their value and for the strength of character that can be required to perform them.

Worth owning and re-reading ( )
  Helcura | Nov 26, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Blakeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kidd,TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A host of sparrows were hopping through the bright-berried pyracantha outside the kitchen window.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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