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Emerita Lynn Freed Writes About Women Rewriting Their Lives

The Last Laugh book coverBess, Ruth and Dania, all about 70, are getting away from it all — “no service, no duty, no motherly or grandmotherly obligations” — hoping for a year of peace and quiet on an island in the Aegean Sea. But that’s wishful thinking in The Last Laugh, a new novel by Lynn Freed, a professor emerita of English.

Lynn Freed mugshot

Soon the women’s vacation is anything but, interrupted by everything from which they’d wanted to escape, and more: not only children and grandchildren, but sponging old lovers and a psychotic client.

NPR’s Maureen Corrigan called The Last Laugh “a Campari spritzer of a novel: bubbly and colorful, but with an underlying note of bitterness to add satisfying complexity.”

Indeed, as Henry Alford wrote in his front-page piece in the July 30 edition of The New York Times Book Review, “Freed is intent on something deeper, more unsettling: Can we ever really absent ourselves, even briefly, from the important people in our lives? Is it lunacy to think we have an essential self — a self that exists outside our relationships to other people? Why is freedom so terrifying?

“In the end,” Alford wrote, “Freed’s candor works to lift the veil off the misperception that life after 60 consists mostly of conversations about sciatica or ceaseless and slightly abject devotion to a tiny, shivery dog.”

The Last Laugh, Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux/July 2017

Freed taught at UC Davis from 2000 to 2015, during which time she published House of Women and The Servants’ Quarters, her fifth and sixth novels. The Last Laugh is her seventh. Her other novels: Friends of the Family (1982), Home Ground (1986), The Bungalow (1993) and The Mirror (1997).

She’s also the author of a collection of short stories, The Curse of the Appropriate Man (2004), and two collections of essays, Reading, Writing and Leaving Home: Life on the Page (2005) and, coming in October …

Romance of Elsewhere book coverThe Romance of Elsewhere

Taking on subjects as disparate as Disneyland, lovers, eco-tourism, shopping, serious illness and the anomaly of writers who blossom into full power only in old age, this new collection captures, at its heart, the dilemma of the expat: Where is home? Traversing decades, continents and back again, Freed’s The Romance of Elsewhere has been called “wise, evocative and darkly humorous” by Publishers Weekly, and its narrator “astute, frank and pitch-perfect.”

The Romance of Elsewhere, Counterpoint Press/October 2017

— Dave Jones, News and Media Relations

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