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Cambridge
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2014
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Description
“It was probably because I was so often taken away from Cambridge when I was young that I loved it as much as I did . . .”

So begins this novel-from-life by the best-selling author of Girl, Interrupted, an exploration of memory and nostalgia set in the 1950s among the academics and artists of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
London, Florence, Athens: Susanna, the precocious narrator of Cambridge, would rather be home than in any of these places. Uprooted from the streets around Harvard Square, she feels lost and excluded in all the locations to which her father’s career takes the family. She comes home with relief—but soon enough wonders if outsiderness may be her permanent condition.
Written with a sharp eye for the pretensions—and charms—of the intellectual classes, Cambridge captures the mores of an era now past, the ordinary lives of extraordinary people in a singular part of America, and the delights, fears, and longings of childhood.
This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/18/2014
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780385350266
ASIN:
B00FDS799O
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Susanna Kaysen. (2014). Cambridge. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Susanna Kaysen. 2014. Cambridge. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Susanna Kaysen, Cambridge. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Susanna Kaysen. Cambridge. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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8c806d69-39ed-bc56-3f83-a4b9fb9484b7
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 17:02:51
Date Updated:
Aug 05, 2022 18:18:51
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      • fileAs: Kaysen, Susanna
      • bioText: Susanna Kaysen has written the novels Asa, As I Knew Him and Far Afield and the memoirs Girl, Interrupted and The Camera My Mother Gave Me. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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title
Cambridge
fullDescription
“It was probably because I was so often taken away from Cambridge when I was young that I loved it as much as I did . . .”

So begins this novel-from-life by the best-selling author of Girl, Interrupted, an exploration of memory and nostalgia set in the 1950s among the academics and artists of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
London, Florence, Athens: Susanna, the precocious narrator of Cambridge, would rather be home than in any of these places. Uprooted from the streets around Harvard Square, she feels lost and excluded in all the locations to which her father’s career takes the family. She comes home with relief—but soon enough wonders if outsiderness may be her permanent condition.
Written with a sharp eye for the pretensions—and charms—of the intellectual classes, Cambridge captures the mores of an era now past, the ordinary lives of extraordinary people in a singular part of America, and the delights, fears, and longings of childhood.
This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Heller McAlpin, NPR
      • content: "Twenty years after the publication of Girl, Interrupted, Kaysen's excoriating memoir about the nearly two years she spent in a psychiatric institution at the end of her teens, she's written a sort of prequel. Cambridge, her unflinching, elegiac, quasi-autobiographical new novel, takes us back to the mid-to-late 1950s with a portrait of Susanna as a difficult 7-to-11-year-old at odds with her family, her teachers and herself. The result is both fascinating and heartbreaking, because we know where her abiding unhappiness is going to land her. Verbally gifted, mathematically challenged young Susanna is precocious right down to her moodiness and resentment . . . Kaysen totally nails the dynamic between the sultry pre-adolescent daughter and the sometimes curt mother who, irritatingly, is nearly always right . . . By labeling her clearly personal new book a novel, Kaysen frees herself to shape her material for maximum effect. Her prose is chiseled and powerful . . ....
      • premium: False
      • source: Curtis Sittenfeld, The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Susanna Kaysen is a wonderful writer. The protagonist of Cambridge, also named Susanna, [is] a bright, sensitive, 1950s elementary school student, getting in the way of herself and others. By the time she's nine, she's already mourning her lost youth. At school, she's bored. She explains, 'my capacity for disappointing people was bigger than their capacity for putting up with me.' Susanna is, in other words, the kind of child who will grow up to be a writer. And although Cambridge is often funny, Kaysen resists portraying her narrator's eccentricities in a precious way; Susanna is truly, convincingly, gloomy and weird . . . Her parents [had] humble beginnings [but] adapted comfortably to a more rarefied life, with dinner guests including potential Nobel winners; the novel's unapologetic attitude toward privilege can seem refreshing . . . If you've ever lived in Cambridge, or just wanted to, there's a decent chance you'll embrace the book . . . The best way to...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 20, 2014
        Susanna, a “cranky and difficult” young girl with complicated parental relations, recalls her formative years, traveling from English shores to Grecian temples, in this fictional memoir, which, as the title implies, focuses on the period she and her academic parents lived in Cambridge, Mass. Despite the somewhat predictable nature of Susanna’s feelings (“They’d be sorry when I froze to death two blocks away, a pathetic little creature with only my bicycle for a friend”) and the lengthy digressions on topics like piano lessons, this raw, biting autobiographical novel from the author of Girl, Interrupted frequently lights up to the point of incandescence with subtle descriptions and astute, witty anecdotes. The depiction of the courtship between Susanna’s piano teacher and her Swedish nanny, Frederika, in which the narrator’s mother and a few other key characters play strong supporting roles, is a literary tour-de-force, neatly displaying Kaysen’s unique talent for creating an engaging ensemble cast that comes uniquely alive under adolescent eyes: “Mascara, a swipe of red lipstick, and a dab of rouge could transform Frederika into a monster in two minutes. It was terrifying.” Susanna may not be the most likeable young girl, and she certainly spends a good deal of time wallowing in self-pity (“I could keep growing and thinking and reading in secret, in my dark, sorry-for-myself basement of failure and neglect, like a little rat”), but for Kaysen and her legion of fans, the focus on adolescence is a theme that works. And why not? Sometimes, parental neglect or some other sad reality is just a fact of life, and the effects are, unfortunately, affectingly real.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 1, 2014
        A woman recalls her childhood in a tony Boston suburb in ways that closely resemble Kaysen's real life (The Camera My Mother Gave Me, 2001, etc.). Susanna, the narrator of this elegantly written but curious novel, is a precocious girl who has intelligence to spare but a strong dislike for rules. As the novel opens in 1955, she's a second-grader who resents being uprooted from her American home to England, where her Harvard-educated economist father teaches for a spell, and Italy, where she receives an early education in both art and her mother's demanding expectations. Back home the following year, Susanna halfheartedly pursues music under the tutelage of a young conductor who's enamored of the family's nanny; Kaysen describes Susanna's modest musical revelations and family dinner parties with a winning sense of how children process the intriguing and baffling world of grown-ups. The book follows Susanna through the late 1950s as her relationship with her mother undergoes some modest strain, the nanny-conductor relationship ends, and the family spends a drowsy summer in Greece. This is all wryly, gently told, but it also feels dramatically thin, more like a snapshot than a work of fiction with a definable arc. (The biggest late-stage tension in the book is the arrival of Susanna's first period.) The parallels between the narrator's and author's lives are unavoidable; both grew up in Cambridge, for instance, and both have an economist father who spent time in London and Greece and later worked at the White House. Is this lightly fictionalized memoir from a best-selling memoirist or fiction with touches of memoir? Though her prose is luxurious and well-turned, the book's anecdotal, relatively shapeless form diminishes its impact. A belletristic vision of tweendom, earnest but inchoate.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 1, 2014
        Cambridge, Massachusetts, is seven-year-old Susanna's everything. She's an anxious child and, as such, takes great comfort in the familiarity of her neighborhood. But at the start of second grade, in the 1950s, her father, a Harvard economics professor, uproots the family for a dark, damp sabbatical in Englandwhere she's introduced to that other Cambridge. Once the family is back home again, the chapters focus on the minutiae of daily life: boredom in school; her friendship with the son of two psychoanalysts; the complexities of her relationship with her mother; and music lessons with an Indian conductor. Sixth grade is once again spent abroad, this time in Greece, where it's one hot, dusty field trip after the next. When Susanna returns to Cambridge for the duration, the city's changedor perhaps she's changedas she notes that her childhood, a mostly unhappy one, has passed. Kaysen, the best-selling author of Girl, Interrupted (1993), offers a melancholic, poignant, and sharply observed account of a precocious child's struggle to make sense of her place in the family and in the larger world.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 15, 2013

        Having captured our attention in 1993 with the blazing memoir Girl, Interrupted, which has sold more than a million copies, Kaysen now offers what's billed as a fictional prequel. Heroine Susanna has loved growing up in 1950s Cambridge, MA, amid the smarties and arties swarming Harvard Square, so she's not that keen on her family's spending a sabbatical year abroad. Then she returns home to discover the meaning of love and art with orchestra conductor Vishwa. Big tour, big promotion, and a reading group guide.

        Copyright 2013 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 1, 2014

        This latest novel from Kaysen (Asa, As I Knew Him) follows a character named Susanna from the second to the sixth grade, taking her through four countries, a Swedish nanny, and a Brahman piano teacher who never makes her play. Susanna leads an unconventional life and is not happy about it. Maladjusted, awkward, and lonely, she has only one friend her age, and he lives in Cambridge, MA. Kids are just one more reason to hate school, but though she spends most of her time abroad in the company of adults, they make no more sense to her than do her classmates. What she does love is the English language, and Susanna's facility with language allows Kaysen to create tension and humor around experiences that would seem insignificant to an adult but that Susanna finds traumatic. VERDICT Although Susanna's despair and confusion are palpable throughout, this is not a depressing work. Susanna is a curious girl whose travels often leave her awestruck. Readers of literary fiction and novels about academic life will find the globe-trotting parents interesting, if not ideal protectors. Anticipate additional interest from viewers of the film based on Kaysen's 1993 memoir, Girl, Interrupted. [See Prepub Alert, 9/23/13.]--Pamela Mann, St. Mary's Coll. Lib., MD

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 26, 2014
        This deeply autobiographical, introspective coming-of-age novel by Kaysen (Girl, Interrupted) requires a great deal of its narrator, who must give life to many different characters of varying ages and nationalities. Actress Mazur, best known for her roles on TV shows Alias and The Closer, succeeds with several of these characters—particularly Susanna, the complex protagonist, who narrates the story. Mazur wisely avoids a bright, innocent, girlish voice for Susanna, an observant and misunderstood child who feels adrift as she accompanies her father, a Harvard economist, on sabbaticals across Europe in the late 1950s. Mazur also nails the tone of Susanna’s pragmatic and critical mother. Less consistent are the accents of the novel’s many international characters: the Swedish nanny, the Italian fashionista, the Greek guide, the Indian music teacher. While the Indian accent is reliably strong, the others flit in and out. Overall, Mazur’s quiet, almost meditative narration is appropriate for this roman à clef, despite a few weak spots. A Knopf hardcover.

popularity
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“It was probably because I was so often taken away from Cambridge when I was young that I loved it as much as I did . . .”

So begins this novel-from-life by the best-selling author of Girl, Interrupted, an exploration of memory and nostalgia set in the 1950s among the academics and artists of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
London, Florence, Athens: Susanna, the precocious narrator of Cambridge, would rather be home than in any of these places. Uprooted from the streets around Harvard Square, she feels lost and excluded in all the locations to which her father’s career takes the family. She comes home with relief—but soon enough wonders if outsiderness may be her permanent condition.
Written with a sharp eye for the pretensions—and charms—of the intellectual classes, Cambridge captures the mores of an era now past, the ordinary lives of extraordinary people in a singular part of America, and the delights,...
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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