Wit's End

Wit's End

by Karen Joy Fowler


$16.00 View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Friday, August 23


This “delightful and eccentric new tale”(The Boston Globe) from the bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club subverts the whodunit and gives us a thoroughly modern meta-mystery with wit, warmth, and heart.

At loose ends and weary from her recent losses—the deaths of an inventive if at times irritating father and her beloved brother—Rima Lansill comes to Wit's End, the home of her legendary godmother, bestselling mystery writer Addison Early, to regroup...and in search of answers. For starters, why did Addison name one of her characters—a murderer—after Rima's father? But Addison is secretive and feisty, so consumed with protecting her famous fictional detective, Maxwell Lane, from the vagaries of the Internet rumor that she has writer's block. As one woman searches for truth, the other struggles to control the reality of her fiction.

Rima soon becomes enmeshed in Addison's household of eccentrics: a formerly alcoholic cook and her irksome son, two quirky dog-walkers, a mysterious stalker, the tiny characters that populate Addison's dollhouse crime-scene replicas, and even Maxwell Lane himself. But, wrapped up in a mystery that may or may not be of her own creation, Rima discovers to her surprise that the ultimate solution to this puzzle is the new family she has found at the house called Wit's End.

Here, Karen Joy Fowler delivers top-notch storytelling—creating characters both oddball and endearing in a voice that is utterly and memorably her own—in this clever, playful novel about finally allowing oneself to grow up-with a dash of mystery thrown in.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452290068
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/28/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Karen Joy Fowler, a PEN/Faulkner and California Book Award winner, is the author of six novels (two of them New York Times bestsellers) and four short story collections. She has been a Dublin IMPAC nominee, and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2014. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.


Davis, California

Date of Birth:

February 7, 1950

Place of Birth:

Bloomington, Indiana


B.A., The University of California, Berkeley, 1972; M.A., The University of California, Davis, 1974

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Wit's End 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mysteries are my weakness, and the whole idea of the doll-house murder scenes in Wit's End was so delightful to start with that I was drawn right in. Fowler sets off in a voice that is fresh and original, stirring in quirky characters with great names like Scorch - some of whom are 'real,' some of whom are characters in books within the book, and some of whom are both. The funky Santa Cruz scene and a cult outpost called Holy City are as fascinating on the page as the real Santa Cruz is. And when a mini-murder corps (named Thomas Grand) mysteriously disappears, the fun really begins. As Rima - one of those characters who both is real and fictional, at least in some fans' minds! - tries to uncover the truth about her family, the reader is treated to wonderfully funny and true insights about human nature and the way we behave online and off. Wit's End is without a doubt one of the freshest, most original books I've read this year!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After the death of her father (expected), Rima Lannisell moves from Cleveland, Ohio to Santa Cruz, California to stay with her godmother, famous mystery author, A.B. Early a woman whom she hardly knows. During her stay, Rima plans to find out just what the story is behind Addison's relationship with her father. The majority of the plot focuses on Rima becoming embroiled in her own 'Maxwell Lane' mystery, making it sometimes difficult to tell what is 'real' and what is fantasy. During Rima's quest to find out about the relationship between Addison and her deceased father, Rima finds herself becoming a detective with the help of Addison's fictional detective, Maxwell Lane. Much of the plot centers around letters written during the early times of Addisons career from a woman named Constance Wellington, who lived in Holy City - a transformed cult. The reader soon finds that Addison is quite obsessed with cults. Most of the time, Rima is a self-pitying woman who continues to mourn the death of her brother, Oliver, who's been dead about four years. Personally, I found Rima the least likable character of the bunch, but it didn't interfere with the reading of the novel. Fowler interlaces humorous characters (with Addison Early, herself, and other secondary characters) while still making them appear as real as can be. The commentary about online blogs and 'everyone being a writer' (through Addison) is hilarious and oh-so true. The plot ties together neatly at the end, but also wants you to hope for more.
JenSay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked The Jane Austen Book Club and I hoped that the author followed a similar thread in telling this story. She didn't. I read the whole thing, but I don't feel like this book is actually about anything. The plot plods along, but nothing really happens. The characters are not very sympathetic and I struggled to care what happened to them. I think this could have been told better in a series of short stories/essays, or as a novella. It just kept dragging on and on.
michaelm42071 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
went to a concert in the late sixties to see a Canadian singing duo called Ian and Sylvia. One of their original songs, ¿Four Strong Winds,¿ had been high on the charts a few years before. When they started this song, the audience began to sing it, and when Ian and Sylvia Tyson tried to change the words in the third verse, they were drowned out by the crowd¿s singing of the lyrics that had been on the record. Just whose song was it, I wondered at the time.This question of who really owns a creative project like a song or in this case a book¿s characters, is taken up by Karen Joy Fowler in her 2008 mystery, Wit¿s End. In this book, Rima Lansill, saddened and confused by the deaths of her mother, father, and younger brother, arrives at Wit¿s End, the Santa Cruz shoreline house of her godmother, the mystery writer Addison Early. She comes for a kind of rest cure and stays to solve a mystery.The mystery is partly what the relationship was between Rima¿s father and Addison, a relationship that would prompt Addison to put Rima¿s father in one of her mysteries as a serial killer, complete with his real name. But there¿s also a stalker who haunts the coast house and who may or may not be the same woman who writes fan letters to Addison¿s fictional detective and who may or may not have grown up in a cult called the Holy City with the person who inspired the character of the detective. At the house called Wit¿s End, Rima encounters a cast of eccentrics that includes Tilda the tattooed cook, her unpleasant son Martin, the dog walkers Scorch and Cody, and various strangers who have trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction. The detective in Addison¿s books becomes a regular visitor in Rima¿s dreams, and she finds herself drawn into an investigation that puts her in danger from those who have been deranged by their bizarre and violent past.Karen Joy Fowler has had several bestselling books, the most recent being The Jane Austen Book Club. She¿s not really a mystery writer. What I mean by that is that her attention is always less with pacing Rima¿s discoveries and clearly elucidating the mystery, always more with the developing new social order at Wit¿s End, as well as whether and how Rima will fit into it. As she has shown from previous books, some of which combine historical and science fiction, she¿s a little bit of a genre bender. But she kept me reading with a really ingratiating style that is often funny and never mistakes sarcasm for wit.
skrishna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I got through about 150 pages of this and had to put it down - I just couldn't get into it.
erinclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not really sure what to think about this book. It is very well written, but the story is rather weak. It had a lot of potential but somehow the mystery just wasn't mysterious enough, at least to me. I did enjoy the quirky humor so if you are looking for something just a little unusual this book would be a good choice.
mabrown2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked the concept of this book. Focusing on writers and fans of books and characters and how sometimes obsessions can be taken a little too far. There wasn't any major action in this story. No huge revelations or dramatic events. But the journey was so nicely done. I remember finishing the book not feeling any kind of connection to any of the characters but still managed to connect to the story at least. I had read Fowler before and knew everything would be a bit more subtle.
lizaandpaul on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Australia this book is published as The Case of the Imaginary Author and the cover is inspired by Cluedo pieces. I was expecting more of a cosy mystery than Fowler produces and given how much I had enjoyed The Jane Austen Book Club I was expecting to enjoy it more than I did. The problem with the novel is that the narrator is less than engaging: she can't make her mind up about whether to pursue the "mystery" of the novel and so we as readers can't make up our minds about whether to go along with her for the ride. It's a shame because the ideas that Fowler wants to engage us in are very interesting: the relationship between novelist and reader, between novelist and source material, even between author and medium of telling the story. She examines the mystery genre but one never feels that she loves it the way one felt that she loved Austen and so the passionless narrator creates the indifferent reader not quite the relationship between novelist and reader she would have hoped for,
Coyote99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely fabulous voice..........very thin plot. A mystery you really don't care about. A protagonist that is so depressed she depresses the reader. Only worth it for the writing.
suncloud9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was first introduced to Karen Joy Fowler's work six months ago when a friend gave me The Jane Austen Book Club. I have to say, I lapped that book up in less than twenty-four hours, even though I was initially thrown by the unidentified first-person narrator. After getting over that little hump, I swiftly fell in love with Fowler's writing. I think what impressed me the most was her uncanny knack for structure, her ability to craft a character's background without getting bogged down in detail, and her fresh, insightful witticisms. Needless to say, I was eagerly looking forward to her next book. Wit's End has all of those elements that make Fowler's writing a delight to read. However, while reading, I found my interest waning and wondered why. It didn't take me long to admit that, despite how much I might love Fowler's writing, a weak plot will still cause my mind to wander. In Fowler's story, Rima Lanisell arrives at her godmother's house (Wit's End) for respite after losing her mother, father and younger brother. Rima has a knack for losing things -- car keys, sunglasses, people. Now, she has come to Santa Cruz to find solace and finally meet her godmother -- famous mystery writer Addison Early. While fumbling through her pain, Rima searches for the truth behind Addison's relationship with Rima's father. This leads Rima into a bit of a mystery that she decides to solve, though rather half-heartedly at times. Wit's End is full of deliciously off-beat characters including two very funny, over-zealous dachshunds named Stanford and Berkeley. The writing is breezy and fun, but the plot falls flat mainly because Rima's character is too wishy-washy to keep the mystery aspects alive and interesting. All in all, Wit's End is worth reading for Fowler's unique style and humor, but don't expect to be riveted by the story itself.
kristenn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's like she took the first couple chapters for an interesting story, stretched them out to book length, and then stopped. Everything up to the final chapter was character development. Charismatic enough characters, but clearly an unnecessary amount. It really only makes sense if it's the start of a series, but it doesn't seem to be. The writing was fine. And the discussion of fan communities was what drew me to it. But nothing actually happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The.mystery is mundaine. Keep waiting for something to happen, it never did.
sugarpy18 More than 1 year ago
I definitely enjoyed this book. The characters were very endearing, the plot was very original and the author's writing style is very pleasant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really liked "The Jane Austin's Book Club" and looked forward to reading this novel. But I didn't enjoy this one as much. I never could figure out if the main protaganist was an older woman or a 20-something- that didn't seem clear to me-but maybe I missed something. I hope this author's next novel/short stories will be more entertaining.
Librarymooose More than 1 year ago
I got engrossed in this title when I first encountered the mystery aspect of it and thought it would turn out to be one in fact. It is o.k. that it isn't a mystery even though it wanted to be! I got lost toward the middle of it because of the incomplete descriptions of how why the main character was at her aunt's house in the first place. When the internet aspect came into play, that's when I started to sense the contemporary effort behind the work. I was vaguely unsatisfied with the ending...not enough actual 'blood and gore' that one comes to look for in a real mystery.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Santa Cruz, California, twenty-nine years old Rima Lanisell visits her godmother mystery writer Addison Early at the latter's oceanfront house Wit's End. Addison is extremely popular for her Maxwell Lane mysteries, but is somewhat a recluse. Her former boyfriend Bim is a recurring character in her novels even as she mourns his recent death; as does his daughter Rima although the latter grieves her brother much more although he died four years ago.----------- For every one of her mysteries Addison creates a dollhouse display of the prime murder scene. However, as her deadline comes closer, she has not started her prototype. Meanwhile Rima has gone through years old correspondence especially fascinated by those involving Constance Wellington of the Holy City cult stronghold, and the dedicated online discussion boards to learn the truth behind the Maxwell Lane novels; she is shocked that even she is a subject of fan discussion. The more she learns about her godmother, her father, and others; the less she understands.---------------- The storyline focuses on how much change has occurred in communications due to the Internet as once an author and a fan might relate one to one, but now a fan can communicate with many other fans instantly. Addison is a terrific character who brings a sense of ironic humor to the mix while her fab fans dissect every comma in her seeking nuances of universal truisms. Rima is not as likable as her godmother, as she wears her grief as armor, but she is the catalyst with her slight probing into the past. WIT'S END is an engaging profound tale with a wry wit that makes the case fame is no longer fifteen minutes since the Internet makes celebrity status seemingly eternal even when the hits stop coming.--------- Harriet Klausner
emmi331 More than 1 year ago
I got about halfway through this book, and enjoyed some great laughs, but the story seemed to wander so much it couldn't hold my interest. It was also a bit vague as to exactly what the mystery was. I believe the lead character, a young woman named Rima, is trying to find out more about her deceased father. Eccentric characters abound, and the author knows how to deliver some hilarious one-liners. I just prefer something with more suspense.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just didn't get the point of this book. I kept reading only out of a vague curiousity about what would happen. My high school English teacher taught me that every story needs a climax, but I guess if this book had one, I missed it. The story just meandered along, and it never grabbed my attention. It wasn't bad reading... just wasn't very satisfying.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was a pleasure to read. Such witty writing and interesting premise. It would be a fabulous book club choice.