Sue Miller made her reputation as one of the most clear-eyed chroniclers of the tensions and stresses of middle-class family life in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. She has a keen insight into conflicts between different generations as well as between siblings and husbands and wives. Descended from clergy on both sides for several generations, Miller grew up in an integrated Chicago neighborhood. At the age of sixteen she entered Radcliffe College and graduated with a B.A. in English Literature. She went on to earn an M.A. in early childhood education from Harvard University, an M.A. in creative writing from Boston University, and an M.A. in English education from Wesleyan University. Miller married a medical student after leaving Radcliffe, but they were divorced in the 1970’s, three years after the birth of their son.
After completing her formal education Miller worked for eight years as a day-care teacher, an experience to which she later credited the keen observation and profound understanding of childhood psychology that critics noted in her writing. In 1983 Miller published a short story in the North American Review that became the basis for her first novel, The Good Mother. In this highly acclaimed first novel, Miller staked out her territory; the domestic country of conflict where issues of control and divided loyalties strip her characters bare. Anna Dunlap, the title character, is the sympathetic narrator of the story. Her husband, Brian, appears to be a decent man, and when they divorce, Anna receives custody of their daughter, Molly. The portrait of Molly Dunlap is one of the triumphs of the novel; an authentic depiction of a bright, happy, child, struggling to make sense of the torn world her parents have created. At first Anna’s life alone with Molly proceeds smoothly, but when she steps out of her chaste role as a single mother to engage in a passionate affair with an artist named Leo, she sets the wheels of retribution in...
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