Natural Light

Ethel Gorham, Author
Ethel Gorham, Author Zoland Books $18.95 (295p) ISBN 978-0-944072-14-1
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In Washington, D.C., to march in a pro-choice rally, septuagenarian Molly Barrett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, searches out her son's name on the Vietnam Memorial and ruminates on her political life and the twists of her careers as artist, wife and mother. After graduating from Vassar, Molly works in the WPA in New York City and takes evening classes at the Art Students League. She and fiery leftist Joe Levin meet at a party in support of the Spanish Civil War; their marriage pleases neither her old New England family nor Joe's Jewish immigrant parents in Brooklyn. With their beliefs tested by world events--including the Nazi-Soviet alliance and the establishment of Israel--their affection is tried by Joe's absence as a pilot during WW II, by Molly's commitment to photography and, later, by their son's decision to fight in Vietnam and their daughter's to emigrate to Israel. ``Old Reds, new liberals,'' is how Molly thinks of herself and her husband, even as Joe becomes a spokesperson for neoconservatism. In her first novel, Gorham ( You're Only Human Once ) deftly limns characters whose commitment and passion are believable, and she illuminates the somewhat formulaic plot by her faithfulness to the times and the forces that shaped individuals and a nation. (Apr.)
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