In this first novel of delicious wit and sharp observation, Austin playwright and professor Lynn C. Miller displays an unerring eye for the foibles of male-dominated departmental politics at fictional Austin University. When Fiona Hardison, a blocked Edith Wharton scholar, is passed over for promotion at the behest of her lover_memorably slimy departmental chairman Sigmund Froelich_she embarks on a journey toward self discovery with surprising consequences. Aided by insights provided in a perceptive Tarot reading, Fiona finds herself reevaluating her academic focus, her personal relationships, and her future prospects for happiness. As she examines her life, she discovers unexpected parallels with Edith Wharton's personal development. These present her with a fresh approach to her biography of this great American author, excerpts of which are interspersed throughout. With sure satiric pacing and much good humor, The Fool's Journey immerses us in a academic atmosphere rife with devious plots. Miller skewers pretensions with a certain hand while she portrays a memorable cast of supporting characters: goddess-y Bettina, wife of botanist Marvin, beloved by all sexes; Dean Darryl Hansen, lover to Fiona and Bettina; solid and supportive fellow Wharton enthusiast Miriam Held; and outrageous gad-fly Blake Burnois, whose mischievous publication of Fiona's biting satire in the Chronicle of Higher Education shatters everyone's status quo into tiny shards. Lovers of the work of Edith Wharton will take particular pleasure from the interweaving of her journey with that of the protagonist in this lively and entertaining tale.
LYNN C. MILLER has published stories in North Dakota Quarterly, Writer, Forum, and Hawaii Review. Co-editor of Voices Made Flesh: Performing Women's Autobiography, she teaches performance studies at the University of Texas at Austin.