The Favourite

Meredith Daneman, Author
Meredith Daneman, Author Knopf Publishing Group $19 (163p) ISBN 978-0-679-42625-7
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Hardcover - 978-0-517-15763-3
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Late in this epiphanic novel, narrator Rosalind, a poet, says of her cartoonist husband, Frank, ``He had the same attitude to drawing as I had to writing: that the personal, dwelt upon with enough fanaticism, will automatically give rise to the general.'' This comment, delivered with caginess and wit, reveals why Rosa's warning bells should go off when a new woman character appears in Frank's comic strip, ordinarily based on his family life. Daneman's ( A Chance to Sit Down ) insightful account of Rosa's girlhood infatuation with her father strikes a familiarly Freudian chord. As a child in Australia, Rosa believes that she's her philandering father's ``favourite''; although she meets his mistresses and bears sympathetic witness to her mother's sorrow, she considers herself alone to be her mother's true rival. Interspersed chapters detail Rosa's married life in London; there, when Frank has an affair, Rosa gains a fresh perspective on adultery as she considers passion and duplicity both through the adolescent eyes of her shocked daughters and the embarrassing wisdom of her own adult hindsight. Along with its meditations on mistrust and, in the case of Rosa's father, on major depression, this story displays great emotional range. In one cathartic passage, Rosa realizes that Frank's fling with a TV anchorwoman is over when he falls asleep during her broadcast. Daneman's writing has enough liveliness and depth to buoy her splendid story and to raise interest in her earlier work. (Apr.)
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