Crucible of Fools

M. S. Power, Author Viking Penguin $18.95 (176p) ISBN 978-0-241-13006-3
A deft, powerful study of evil in an isolated Irish village, Power's seventh novel opens with an almost idyllic situation, the marriage of 45-year-old Dan Loftus, an outsider, to a young local woman, Deirdre. Settling into Deirdre's farm, the two are sufficient unto themselves, but their detachment from village life is misunderstood and mistrusted by the villagers. When their only child is born handicapped, and then dies, Deirdre sinks into a depression and eventually hangs herself. Thus begins the downward spiral of Loftus, a simple man with a capacity for goodness, whose personality deteriorates as the villagers become increasingly vicious toward him. Power, an Irish writer living in Scotland, adeptly depicts the resentment, anger and lust that lie just under the townspeople's simple facades. Their mindless, xenophobic cruelty eventually turns Loftus into the madman they have always imagined him to be. Spare and inexorable, this tale is a stark portrayal of the psyches of both hunter and hunted. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
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