Readers of Jolley's last novel, My Father's Moon , will be swept by deja vu as they read this work, which deals with the same incidents in the life of narrator Vera Wright, a nursing student in London during WW II who has an illegitimate child by a married doctor. There is one difference, however, and it is considerable: while the earlier book seemed cool and detached, here Jolley creates an atmosphere of almost palpable sorrow and desolation that elicits the reader's empathy. Though the language is again restrained, here we feel the quivering emotions that Vera suffers to bring under control: her longing for her lover, who has died in the war; her panic about raising a child alone; her regrets about her aborted career; her conflicting feelings about her parents, who want to help, but from whom she resolves to remain independent; her maturing insights about the people who have loved and/or damaged her. Jolley excels in her portrait of this frightened, lonely, unsophisticated, heartbroken woman, bravely determined to save herself and her child. Narrated in a series of short, intense flashbacks by the adult Vera, who has come to a medical conference in New York City only to find herself emotionally incapable of leaving her hotel room, the novel conveys the claustrophobic grip of unbearably poignant memories, the essence of bereavement, and the resiliency of the human spirit. Psychologically acute and penetrating, this is Jolley writing with masterful power. First serial to the New Yorker. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1991 Release date: 07/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.