THE GOOD PRIEST'S SON

Reynolds Price, Author . Scribner $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7432-5400-7

The events of 9/11 serve as a catalyst for reconciliation between Mabry Kincaid, a 53-year-old Manhattan art conservator, and his father, Tasker, an Episcopal priest, in Price's 14th novel, a nuanced, quietly evocative story set in North Carolina. Mabry, who was on a cross-Atlantic flight during the attacks on the World Trade Center, decides to go to his father's home in North Carolina rather than return to his uninhabitable downtown New York apartment. In his boyhood home he finds Audrey Thornton, a golden-eyed, 4o-something African-American woman providing companionship (she's a Duke divinity student) and care for Mabry's wheelchair-bound father. Mabry's visit becomes an extended stay, and over the course of the leisurely narrative, Price (Roxanna Slade , etc.) chronicles Mabry's tentative friendship with Audrey and her son and develops Mabry's difficult father-son relationship; the novel blossoms into a heartfelt study of thorny familial love. Price also poignantly renders the exigencies of Mabry's middle age: Mabry takes up with an old flame while coming to terms with his philandering past, the death of his wife from cancer and the debilitating onset of multiple sclerosis. His discovery of a Van Gogh oil sketch also livens the story, but it is Price's assured prose and fully imagined characters and their family ties that make this emotionally resonant novel compelling. Agent, Harriet Wasserman . (June)

Reviewed on: 04/11/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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