Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Lake Glass Therapy Center

Lake Glass Therapy Center. Place where Caroline has lengthy therapy sessions with Hannah Burke that develop the major themes of the novel. Noting the brown tweed couch, bookshelves, photographs of children, and poorly tended fern in Hannah’s office, Caroline initially believes she cannot be helped in such a shallow, comfortable, conventionally suburban atmosphere. However, the sign on Hannah’s office door, “Thank you for shutting up while I smoke,” is indicative of Hannah’s refreshing honesty and self-acceptance—characteristics that the unconventional and rebellious Caroline lacks. During sessions that take place over several months, Caroline eventually recognizes not only her inability to be truthful with herself, but also the presence of suffering everywhere. In the office, Caroline discovers that the apparently comfortable and secure Hannah has suffered the loss of parents to abandonment and death and the loss of two children to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Caroline Kelly’s home

Caroline Kelly’s home. Cabin near Lake Glass. Caroline shares the cabin with Diana and her daughter Sharon, occupying the first floor with her sons, Jackie and Jason. Caroline’s on-again, off-again relationship with Diana, indicative of her confused sexual identity, and her frustrations as a single mother, are dramatized in the cozy cabin. Beside Caroline’s bed stands a loom where...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Evans, Nancy. “Lives of Caroline.” The New York Times Book Review, November 11, 1984, 26. Points to a lack of humor and originality, but with praise for the characterization.

King, Francis. “Hannah and Caroline.” The Spectator 254, no. 8174 (March 9, 1985): 23. A friendly reading of Other Women, pointing out the solidity of Alther’s depiction of psychotherapy and lamenting the novel’s lack of humor.

Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher. Review of Other Women, by Lisa Alther. The New York Times, December 10, 1984, C16. Takes issue with Alther’s negative depiction of the men in her heroine’s life and argues that the case for psychotherapy is overstated.

Oktenberg, Adrian. “Odd Couple.” New Directions for Women 14, no. 1 (January/February, 1985): 17-20. Regards Other Women as the most successful of Alther’s novels, praising it for its reverberations and accuracy in depicting a successful relationship between women.

Peel, Ellen. “Subject, Object, and the Alternation of First-and Third-Person Narration in Novels by Alther, Atwood, and Drabble.” Critique 30, no. 2 (1989): 107-122. Places Alther in the company of other distinguished women novelists and discusses the techniques of her fiction.