The Rope Walk

Carrie Brown, Author . Pantheon $24 (321p) ISBN 978-0-375-42463-2

Like Brown's first novel, Rose's Garden , her sixth sets themes of tolerance and understanding in a picture-postcard setting. In a Vermont town where a description of the local library racks up a dozen adjectives (including "tall," "bracing," "rippling," "silvery" and "delicious"), children collect butterflies and recite "Hiawatha." When Kenneth Fitzgerald, the artist who sponsored the library's transformation from dreary to spectacular, returns to his childhood home dying of AIDS, he asks 10-year-old Alice MacCauley and her neighbors' manic visiting mixed-race grandson, Thelonious Swann— "a tawny little lion cub"—to come by and read to him in the afternoons. Alice's mother died young; her father teaches Shakespeare and recites it around the house (while her older brothers blow smoke rings), so Alice is primed for literature. All three are drawn into Lewis and Clark's journals as Alice reads them aloud; the explorers' historic journey stands in for Fitzgerald's journey toward death and for Alice and Theo's trip into nascent first love and adulthood. The rope Alice walks isn't very high off the ground, but Brown keeps it taut and stretched across some engaging vistas. (May)

Reviewed on: 01/22/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Compact Disc - 978-1-60283-054-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-307-49029-2
Compact Disc - 9 pages - 978-0-7927-4855-7
Paperback - 321 pages - 978-0-307-27809-8
Hardcover - 491 pages - 978-0-7862-9907-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7927-4958-5
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