George and Lizzie Summary & Study Guide

Pearl, Nancy
This Study Guide consists of approximately 42 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of George and Lizzie.
This section contains 770 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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George and Lizzie Summary & Study Guide Description

George and Lizzie Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on George and Lizzie by Pearl, Nancy.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Pearl, Nancy. George & Lizzie. Touchstone, 2017.

Nancy Pearl’s novel, set in late 20th-century America, opens with a scene in which the two main characters, George and Lizzie, meet at a bowling alley as college students. The author then takes readers back in time to provide background information leading up to this event. Lizzie is the daughter of two famous behavioral psychologists who treat her less as a beloved daughter and more as a lab rat, leaving her upbringing to a series of babysitters and paid grad students. In high school, she embarks on a mission to sleep with all 23 starters on the football team, in what becomes known as the Great Game. This decision comes back to haunt her repeatedly throughout her life. Short sections narrating the Great Game, and the lives of the players, are woven throughout the novel, in order to demonstrate its enduring effect on Lizzie’s life. Meanwhile, George is raised by loving parents, and his optimism stands in direct contrast to Lizzie’s pessimism about love, family, and the future. He goes to Ann Arbor to pursue his education in dentistry, where he meets Lizzie.

Lizzie decides to major in English literature in college, where she becomes best friends with her roommate Marla and Marla’s boyfriend James. Lizzie briefly dates a fellow poetry student in college named Jack McConaghey and quickly falls in love. He discovers her secret, the Great Game, and despite his promise to return after a summer trip back home, she never hears from him again. Brokenhearted and suffering from depression and insomnia, Lizzie decides to give the young man she met bowling a call. George and Lizzie begin to date, and their relationship quickly progresses, despite her enduring hope that Jack will one day return for her. Lizzie invites George to join her at her parents’ awkward Thanksgiving party, and George invites Lizzie to fly home to Tulsa with him for the Christmas holidays. They have a wonderful time, and Lizzie instantly bonds with his kind and welcoming parents. Two years later, on another trip to Tulsa for the holidays, George proposes to Lizzie. After graduation, they get married.

Soon after, Lizzie’s parents, Lydia and Mendel, die in a car crash. George and his supportive parents, Elaine and Allan, help Lizzie plan the funeral. Afterwards, the four of them go on a walking tour in Cornwall as a honeymoon trip. They have a lovely time, and for a brief period, Lizzie is able to forget her pain, the voices in her head criticizing her for the Great Game, and her own lasting unhappiness.

George cares for Lizzie deeply and wishes he could help ease her sadness. Meanwhile, Lizzie keeps her harbored feelings for Jack a secret, and regularly visits the public library hoping to see him. She even wore a bracelet she had once bought as a gift for Jack at their wedding, and continues to wear it into their marriage. After George offers insightful advice and comfort to one of his dental patients, he becomes famous for his Buddhist-inspired philosophies on suffering, grief, and opportunities for growth. He is invited on TV segments, public speaking engagements, and soon is travelling on tour with Lizzie in tow. She is unfulfilled and has been working odd jobs since graduation, spending her spare time reading books and researching Jack’s whereabouts. In a final climactic confrontation, George discovers Lizzie’s enduring obsession with Jack and offers her an ultimatum: if she wants to move forward with him, she must forget Jack.

All this time, Lizzie has remained close friends with Marla and James, who are married with three children, and who recently moved to Santa Fe. When Lizzie receives a call from Marla notifying her that James is dying of lung cancer, Lizzie flies to New Mexico to support Marla and take care of her children over the next four months. George later joins her there, and they are all together for James’ last days. After the funeral, Lizzie and George head home. At the airport, Lizzie hears an announcement calling for a Dr. Jack McConaghey to come to the gate, and instead of checking to see if after all these years it is the Jack she has been looking for, she chooses not to. She takes off the bracelet she has been stubbornly and guiltily wearing, and leaves it in a bathroom, walks back to find George, and moves forward towards their future together, at last letting go of the pain from her past.

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