""I'm blithering, amn't I?"" asks Pen O'Grady, narrator of Donoghue's second novel (after Stir-Fry). Many readers will answer ""yes""--and that's a shame, because behind Pen's banal chattiness lies an agreeable and affecting story. Thirty-year-old Dublin schoolteacher Pen has just lost her lover of 13 years, Cara Wall, in a car crash. Though mapping the trajectory of Pen's grief seems Donoghue's primary aim, she also explores issues untouched by death: Will Pen bed Cara's sexy older sister, Kate, who's flown home from America for the funeral? Will Pen find the courage to come out to her mother and to Cara's father? Quotidian tails of housecleaning and coffee-brewing share space, sometimes too much, with tender and troubling flashbacks of life with the flame-haired, faithless Cara, whom Pen first seduced on their convent-school roof. Donoghue's unsentimental examination of the complex relationship between the two women is a pleasure, but the story line, lacking dramatic tension, ultimately sags under the weight of Pen's wordiness. U.K., translation, dramatic rights: Caroline Davidson, London. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996 Release date: 03/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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