The Resource Ten days in the hills, by Jane Smiley, (large print)

Ten days in the hills, by Jane Smiley, (large print)

Ten days in the hills
Ten days in the hills
Statement of responsibility
by Jane Smiley
Ten days in the hills
In the wake of the 2003 Academy Awards, a group of friends and family gathers in the Hollywood hills for ten transformative days of love, memories, gossip, movies, and more, including Max, an Oscar-winning writer/director whose career is waning; his lover Elena; his ex-wife, film star Zoe Cunningham; their daughter Isabel; and others
Writing style
  • /*Starred Review*/ Smiley has a gift for entwining eroticism with humanism and sparkling wit to form deliciously complex and slyly satirical fiction. And what opulent realms she loots: academia, horse racing, real estate, and now Hollywood. Here Smiley crafts dialogue every bit as provocative as her detailed sex scenes, and, once again, makes ingenious use of a literary antecedent, this time using as a template Boccaccios Decameron. While Boccaccio's group of 10 women and men hope to escape the Black Death by sequestering themselves for 10 days in a villa outside Florence, Smiley quarantines her characters in a mansion high in the hills of Hollywood as the U.S. invades Iraq. Ensconced in luxury if plagued with moral quandaries, they sort out complex family and romantic relationships and argue over the war. Movie director Max, 58, has found contentment with Elena, 50, a charmingly commonsensical writer of unexpectedly intelligent how-to books, and the novel's ethical center. Then there's Elena's mischievous son; Max's socially conscious daughter; Max's ex, the supremely beautiful singer and actress Zoe; her imperial Jamaican mother; and Zoe's current lover, an annoyingly serene guru. A neighbor tells gossipy tales of old Hollywood, Max's agent pitches an unlikely project, and a friend from Max's boyhood irritates everyone. Each thorny character has an intriguing backstory, feelings run high, and Smiley is regally omnipotent as she advocates for art, objects to war, and considers tricky questions of power and spirit, love and compassion. Archly sexy and brilliant. -- Donna Seaman (Reviewed 12-15-2006) (Booklist, vol 103, number 8, p5)
  • /* Starred Review */ Smiley (A Thousand Acres ) goes Hollywood in this scintillating tale of an extended Decameron -esque L.A. house party. Gathering at the home of washed-up director Max the morning after the 2003 Academy Awards are his Iraq-obsessed girlfriend, Elena; his movie-diva ex-wife Zoe and her yoga instructor–cum–therapist–cum– boyfriend Paul; Max's insufferably PC daughter, Isabel, and his feckless agent, Stoney, who are conducting a secret affair; Zoe's oracular mother, Delphine; and Max's boyhood friend and token Republican irritant Charlie. They watch movies, negotiate their clashing diets and health regimens, indulge in a roundelay of lasciviously detailed sexual encounters and, most of all, talk—holding absurd, meandering, beguiling conversation about movies, Hollywood, relationships, the war and the state of the world. Through it all, they compulsively reimagine daily life as art: Max dreams of making My Lovemaking with Elena , an all-nude, sexually explicit indie talk-fest inspired by My Dinner with Andre , but Stoney wants him to remake the Cossack epic Taras Bulba . Smiley delivers a delightful, subtly observant sendup of Tinseltown folly, yet she treats her characters, their concern with compelling surfaces and their perpetual quest to capture reality through artifice, with warmth and seriousness. In their shallowness, she finds a kind of profundity. (Feb.) --Staff (Reviewed December 4, 2006) (Publishers Weekly, vol 253, issue 48, p33)
  • /* Starred Review */ A diverse group of attractive folks take refuge from tragedy in a hillside villa, where much merriment, bawdiness, and storytelling ensue. Boccaccio's Decameron ? Yes, at least as transplanted to 21st-century America in this sly and sexy comic novel. The hills of the title are in Hollywood, the tragedy is the Iraq war, and the characters, all connected in some way with the film industry, exemplify the privileged classes of our times. The ill-assorted circle that descends unexpectedly on Max, an aging director, and Elena, his significant other, include Max's grown-up environmentalist daughter, Isabel; Stoney, Max's agent (and Isabel's secret romantic interest); Elena's son, Simon, who is currently skipping college classes to work in a student porn flick; Max's gorgeous movie star ex-wife and her New Age lover; and Charlie, a childhood friend of Max fleeing suburban life. During an eventful week and a half, the group's political tensions, family arguments, anecdotes, gossip, and lovemaking make up a satirical frolic reminiscent of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's Moo , though here with more emphasis on Eros than academe. Recommended for most fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/06.]—Starr E. Smith, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA --Starr E. Smith (Reviewed February 15, 2007) (Library Journal, vol 132, issue 3, p115)
  • Smiley, who won a Pulitzer for transplanting King Lear to 1970s Iowa (A Thousand Acres, 1991), sets her modern-day version of The Decameron in Hollywood. And it's no prize-winner.Her characters are not drawn together by a disaster as directly threatening as the Black Death, though the recently launched invasion of Iraq inspires nearly as much dread in one of them. Self-help author Elena can't help brooding about the war, even as she lies in bed kissing her lover, slightly-past-his-prime film director Max. It's March 24, 2003, the morning after the Oscars, and Max's house is filled with guests: insecure Stoney, who inherited the job of Max's agent from his more dynamic father; belligerently patriotic Charlie, Max's childhood friend; Delphine, who's still living in Max's guest house years after his divorce from her daughter, gorgeous movie star Zoe; Delphine's best friend Cassie; Max and Zoe's daughter Isabel; and Elena's feckless son Simon. In wander Zoe and her new lover Paul, a New Age-y healer, and the stage is set for ten days of storytelling à la Boccaccio. Unsurprisingly, many of the tales involve movies and moviemaking, though Smiley nods to her source material a few times (e.g., a notorious sinner declared a saint after a mendacious deathbed confession). If only her narrative were as lively as the bawdy Decameron: There's plenty of sex, but most of it is clinical rather than erotic, and the erectile difficulties of middle-aged men don't make for very arousing reading either. The parade of stories has no evident thematic unity, and the characters are frequently irritating. Even those who agree with Elena's feelings about Iraq may grow tired of her harping on the subject, and Isabel's perennially aggrieved stance toward her mother hardly seems justified by Zoe's mildly diva-esque behavior. A change of venue to a lavish mansion owned by a mysterious Russian who wants Max to direct a remake of Taras Bulba helps not at all.A couple of touching moments toward the end can't redeem this surprising misstep from one of our most gifted novelists. (Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2006)
Cataloging source
Dewey number
no index present
Literary form
Target audience
Jane Smiley
10 days in the hills
Ten days in the hills, by Jane Smiley, (large print)
Control code
23 cm.
893 p.
Form of item
large print
Isbn Type
(hardcover : alk. paper)

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