Falling Angels

Barbara Gowdy, Author
Barbara Gowdy, Author Soho Press $18.95 (199p) ISBN 978-0-939149-35-3
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
Canadian writer Gowdy's ( Through the Green Valley ) second novel offers many satisfactions. Scrupulously and evocatively wrought, with fully formed characters, it poses but does not quite resolve an intriguing mystery rooted in character and fate. The book opens in 1969, at a funeral of a woman who either jumped or fell from the roof of her track house. The time frame then shifts to a decade earlier, when the woman's daughters discover that years before she had thrown or dropped an infant son over Niagara Falls. The girls--Norma, Lou and Sandy--are fascinated by this unknown sibling and by a parent who spends her life drunk, facing a TV, while the girls' father, a used-car salesman, maintains household order, such as it is. One Christmas, he promises a trip to Disneyland but instead builds, with Norma's help, a bomb shelter, and persuades the family to hole up in it for two weeks. The girls get through the fetid underground days by sipping from their mother's mug of whiskey, which their father keeps topped off. Through it all, the siblings create their own mechanisms for coping. Originally published in Canada to critical acclaim, this novel, a portion of which appeared in The Best American Short Stories 1989 , brilliantly celebrates the bonding that occurs even in dysfunctional families. (Apr.)
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