Set on Edge

Bernice Rubens, Author Trafalgar Square Publishing $19.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-241-12123-8
Originally published in England in 1960, this is a bleak rendition of a mother/daughter love/hate relationship by the Booker Prize-winning author (see review of Our Father below). Gladys Sperber, the family ""martyr,'' is the oldest of five ``failures'' who, because her mother is ``too busy,'' virtually raises her siblings. ``She would take her food when the others had eaten. . . . She would wait for their happiness before she felt entitled to her own, and she would have looked after their dying if she'd been able.'' The title refers to Gladys's destructive symbiotic relationship with her mother: the biblical book of Ezekiel observes that fathers eat sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. Although the novel, which covers two world wars, evokes the limited choices available to women in a man's world and is replete with manifestations of mother-daughter interdependence (an adult Gladys shares a bedroom with her widowed mother), it doesn't probe the psychodynamics of that relationship. The result is a contrived work that depresses rather than engrosses. (December)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1987
Release date: 11/01/1987
Paperback - 222 pages - 978-0-85303-155-0
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