Our Lady of the Prairie is a sharp and bitingly funny novel about a professor whose calm-ish midwestern life gives way to a vortex of crises--and her attempts to salvage the pieces without going to pieces herself. In the space of a few torrid months on the Iowa prairie, Phillipa Maakestad--long-married theater professor and mother of an unstable daughter--grapples with a life turned upside down. After falling headlong into a passionate affair during a semester spent teaching in Ohio, Phillipa returns home to Iowa for her daughter Ginny's wedding. There, Phillipa must endure (among other things) a wedding-day tornado, a menace of a mother-in-law who may or may not have been a Nazi collaborator, and the tragicomic revenge fantasies of her heretofore docile husband. Naturally, she does what any newly liberated woman would do: she takes a match to her life on the prairie and then steps back to survey the wreckage. Set in the seething political climate of a contentious election, Thisbe Nissen's new novel is sexy, smart, and razor-sharp--a freight train barreling through the heart of the land and the land of the heart. (Houghton Mifflin)
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