Susan is the mother of Casey, an independent handicapped daughter who is mother challenged. Casey’s father Hal goes in search of Casey’s boss who is lost south of the border. Hal learned that Susan is an adulterer just before leaving. Adultery is part sport, part addiction for Susan. Her husband does not return and for a quarter of this novel by Lydia Millet, Susan refers to herself as a “murderer”. Apart from this excessive repetition of guilt, the novel begins to work when Susan inherits her uncle’s mansion. The house is filled with taxidermy. Susan finds life through the dead animals.
Narrated by Susan, “Magnificence” reflects a point of view about men from the vantage point of an un-grounded woman. Susan is a good person who cannot say “no”. The interesting aspect of the story revolves around the origin of the taxidermy. During the course of her discovery, a gaggle of elderly women dispossess Susan of her privacy and give Susan an exoskeleton to forestall replication of their chronological disintegration.
The book is a fast read and is entertaining. Ms. Millet’s short story collection “Love in Infant Monkeys” was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.