The Legend of Olivia Cosmos Montevideo

Constance Warloe, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $22 (316p) ISBN 978-0-87113-564-3
Set in 1970, this first novel follows Roberta Patterson Masters, a suburban Washington, D.C., housewife whose son has just been killed in Vietnam, on a journey of self-discovery from grief and despair to a new beginning. Unable to work through this unspeakable loss with her husband, Roberta decides to drive across the country; after diverse stopovers, she comes to Santa Fe, N.M. There she assumes a new identity--Olivia Cosmos Montevideo, a combination of three town names seen on a roadside sign--and, with the help of a lover, discovers fresh ways to express both her own vitality and the enormity of Gary's death: through art, passion and the lessons of Native American lore. Warloe expertly skirts the potential cliches here, as her protagonist comes a difficult full circle, integrating her past with her future, rather than just a pat leaving-it-all-behind. The assured narrative is shot through with flashes of startling inspiration, capturing many-layered emotions in aptly chosen images from daily life. Although Roberta/Olivia's introspection often crowds out concrete events--leaving less with which the reader can engage--this unusual chronicle of a woman's odyssey resonates with wisdom and deep feeling. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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