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Sue Miller Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Good Mother (1986)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Family Pictures (1990)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
For Love (1993)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Distinguished Guest (1995)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
While I Was Gone (1999)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The World Below (2001)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Lost in the Forest (2005)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Senator's Wife (2008)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Lake Shore Limited (2010)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Arsonist (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Monogamy (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

The Story of My Father (2003)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Inventing the Abbotts (1987)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Sue Miller is an American bestselling literary and fiction author with several novels to her name. She loves to describe herself as a lover, mother teacher, and confidant. Miller is also a calming presence that describes herself she is an exemplary person whose trust and authority are inviolable. However, she has asserted that she has several weaknesses she admits to with a candor that most authors would not. For instance, she has said that she is not a daily grinder that boasts thousands of words churned out every day. Instead, Miller works best when she is in a state of depression and boredom which is usually what banishes her to her desk. This is because she always experiences a nearly paralyzing anxiety whenever she wants to start writing the manuscript for a new title. Despite this, she has managed to make quite a successful writing career for herself. She published her first novel “The Good Mother” in 1986 and by 2020, had more than eleven titles to her name. Miller is also the author of a short story collection titled “Inventing the Abbots” that she published in 1947. Over the years, her novels have been Best Book nominees for the Bailey Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Oprah’s Book Club.

Miller had been a resident of the Cambridge/Boston Massachusetts area for more than three decades though she now spends much of her time in the countryside. She grew up in the South Side of Chicago in Hyde Park. She was the grandchild of a Protestant clergyman; her father taught church history at the divinity school at the University of Chicago and was also an ordained minister. It was a restrictive and odd upbringing yet very liberal too. Her parents were strict and believed that you had to defend your opinions against what they believed. As such, Miller chose to be a studious and overachieving student that preferred books over everything else. By the time she was sixteen, she had skipped senior year and been admitted to Radcliffe College. These were difficult years for the teen as she learned very little given how unprepared she was for college. Part of her problem was that she had not figured out her professional or academic direction. It had been instilled in her that only neurotic women aspired to become career women. But she knew very well that her mother’s adherence to those standards had made her miserable. When she graduated from college, she got married and while her husband went to medical school she made some money modeling, teaching high school, waiting tables, and as a researcher in a lab. She got divorced when she was twenty-four and with one child.

For the next five years, Sue Miller spent much of her time working for parent cooperatives and daycare centers since she did not have the luxury to do something else given that she was a single mother. It was not until she was thirty-five that writing fiction became a serious dream. Over the years, she had dabbled in writing, and even as a child, she had been writing short stories and poems for fun. As a college student at Radcliffe, she was an English literature major though she had attended a creative writing class but did not get much attention for her writing. In her twenties, she had written a novel and then another one that took so long and was so painful and tedious that she could not remember what it was about once she was done. Nonetheless, she never thought she could make writing into a career. By coincidence, she lived in the same building as a nice young man who would become Robert Coover. Miller still remembers how astonished she was when he published his first novel. In 1977 with more time on her hands, she became disciplined and committed. She enrolled for a creative writing course at Harvard Extension and it was not long before she published in North American Review and Ploughshares. Miller got a scholarship and graduated with a master’s in creative writing from Boston University and after several jobs that included teaching in local colleges. she published her debut novel “The Good Mother in 1986.

Sue Miller’s “The Good Mother” opens to Anna Dunlop coming to terms with her just ended marriage. It had been an amicable split and she had even got full custody of Molly their four-year-old daughter. Mother and daughter live in a Cambridge apartment and Dunlop has to work as a lab assistant and piano teacher to pay the rent and feed both of them. Her ex-husband Brian contributes to their upkeep from time to time. After she reexamines her past, she realizes that she has been trying to please people all her life. She had tried to please her husband who wanted a plain family life she hated and her parents who wanted her to become a virtuoso pianist. Miller had lived in fear of judgment and had been self-defensive all her life, walking a narrow path while she neglected what she was supposed to become. Everything changes when she meets an artist named Leo who is hoping to make it big in New York. He is a passionate and intense spirit who makes Anna feel emotions she has never felt before. Unfortunately, she is careless in traversing the new terrain and her vindictive ex charges her with improper conduct and is now seeking to take full custody of Molly their daughter.

“Family Pictures” by Sue Miller is set in the 1950s, an idyllic time where things seem to be going very well for the Eberhardt family. They had purchased a massive house in Chicago overlooking the park. Their father is a psychologist while the mother stays at home to take care of their three kids. But things go wrong when they discover that their most beautiful and youngest child has autism and the news confounds the family. Frustrated and angry with what fate had given them, the father buries himself in work. The mother is similarly destroyed since medicine and diagnostics of the times believe that the mother must have been responsible for giving birth to an autistic child. Pained by being blamed for her autistic child, she schemes to get three healthy children to make up for her autistic son. The novel follows the family through the sixties, seventies, and eighties. Through the story, we get to see the perspectives of the members of the family except for the autistic child, who seems to be the catalyst for destruction and change and the glue that holds everything together.

Sue Miller’s “For Love” is a resonant and forceful portrayal of a woman that is trying to get away from her past. Elizabeth Harbour, Cameron, and Lottie Reed were brought up in Cambridge Massachusetts. The Reeds lived in a rundown house across the Harbour’s, whose residence was a mansion that told the story of the social chasm that increasingly became evident as the girls became teenagers. They have come back together as Lottie’s second marriage is falling apart and she is back in town to clean out the few possessions her mother had left behind. The glamorous and self-absorbed Elizabeth is also running away from a marital crisis, while Cameron who has loved Elizabeth for a long time reawakens their old romance. The Reefs were brought up in impoverished homes given that their father was in jail for embezzlement while their mother was an alcoholic that abused them. Given their upbringing, they are still suffering from emotional dysfunction that they have tried and been unable to leave behind. Willful, independent but vulnerable, Lottie is suffering from repressed unconscious denial, guilt, rage, and an inability to love or be loved. But soon a tragedy will result in a collision between the friends.

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