karlmarx. com: A Love Story

Simon & Schuster
Title karlmarx. com: A Love Story
ISBN 0743200039
Author Coll, Susan
Binding Hardcover
Publisher Simon & Schuster
Publisher Year 2001
Publisher Location New York
Condition Fine
Description 0743200039 From Publishers Weekly A 20th-century graduate student discovers that she and Karl Marx's daughter are doppelg?ngers in this heartfelt but awkward debut novel. Modern-day Ella Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate struggling to complete her dissertation on Eleanor Marx before her wealthy father cuts her off. To support herself, Ella lands a job at a consulting firm called the Institute of Thought, whose sole client a group known as the Neoclassicists for Universal Thought and Study (NUTS) wants Ella to set up a Web site hawking Karl Marx merchandise. She soon falls in love with a stammering, attractive Englishman (who happens to looks just like Hugh Grant), despite the fact that he's married. He moves in with her, refuses to talk about his past and begins writing an existentialist play set in a discount store. As this untenable situation deteriorates, Ella begins to pick up disturbing echoes of her life in the history of Eleanor Marx, who fell in with a no-good Englishman of her own a century before. Will Ella share Eleanor's tragic fate? By the end, the question is leached of interest, overwhelmed by Coll's labored humor and by the meandering story line. Most problematic is the wildly inconsistent tone: sometimes the novel reads like satire (TV crews camp outside Ella's workplace hoping to catch a glimpse of what they believe is America's last remaining Marxist), and at other times, it reads like the most banal kind of realism (for example, giving far too much detail on Ella's failure to understand PageMaker and HTML). The novel has potential the irony of exploiting Marx for financial gain is a promising premise, as is the aimlessness of a young woman without a cause but it never quite reaches fruition. Agent, Melanie Jackson. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. From Booklist Farcical and full of plot twists, Coll's novel is a poignant tale of insecurity and obsession. Ella Kennedy is a graduate student in political theory, struggling to write a doctoral thesis about Karl Marx's daughter, Eleanor, while supporting herself as a waitress. Things seem to be looking up when she moves to Washington, D.C., to create a commercial Web site about Marx for the Institute of Thought, but shortly thereafter Ella meets Nigel, an absent-minded, emotionally vulnerable ornithologist whose wife has left him, and, in spite of his self-absorption, falls madly in love. Flashing back and forth between the chaos in Ella's own life and the life of the unhappy Eleanor Marx, Coll examines the question, Why do otherwise intelligent women get involved with men who take advantage of them? Although the ending is unsatisfying, as Ella doesn't seem to learn much from her travails, the reader will gain a great deal of insight into the ways in which passion can mislead even the most rational, educated woman. Bonnie Johnston Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

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