In the Spanish Ballroom

Doris Rochlin, Author
Doris Rochlin, Author Doubleday Books $19.95 (258p) ISBN 978-0-385-26564-5
Reviewed on: 12/01/1990
Release date: 12/01/1990
Facing loss and unsatisfactory relationships, Linda Jo Merceau is perceptive and emotionally resourceful, proving an engaging heroine for Rochlin's ( Frobisch's Angel ) insightful story of a family's emergence from grief into an acknowledgement of love. After her husband Buddy walks out, Linda and her six-year-old son Paulie move back home with her bossy and pessimistic mother Juanita and her older brother Franklin, agoraphobic since their father's death four years ago. Linda is well aware of her disappointment in Paulie--``Not the feisty sort who'll make it in this world''--and of her frustration with Franklin for refusing to deal with reality; she also admits her inability to end the marriage to Buddy and to leave her mother's house. Then Juanita's heart attack forces Linda to confront her mother's vulnerability and Franklin's fear, and Buddy's reappearance kindles her desire to escape with him despite his shallowness and chauvinism. In getting Franklin to visit the hospital, Linda reconstructs their childhood bond, which is revealed in a shared memory of dancing with Pop in an amusement park ballroom. As she cuts her losses and accepts Paulie's need for a place in the family, Linda becomes self-reliant. Juanita's long and uncertain healing process parallels the family's gradual reconciliation after the pain and frustration of life's hard knocks. (Jan.)
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