Our Lady of the Snows

Morley Callaghan, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-312-59054-3
Those familiar with the author's previous books (including The Enchanted Pimp, which inspired this slim but character-crowded novel) will find the curiously flat tone here a disappointment. But even when writing at less than his best, Callaghan is still an effective storyteller. The title (taken from Rudyard Kipling's description of Canada) refers to a prostitute whose base of operations is a Toronto hotel where all elements of society mingle: affluent, ""respectable'' people patronize the bar; ladies of the evening cruise the lobby for pickups. Among the latter, Ilona Tomory is a mysterious Hungarian refugee whose aura of distinction and elegance is epitomized by the full-length mink coat she wears. Ilona has what one character calls the ``ancient gift'' of compassion and tenderness; the men she selects as her clients find the experience almost sacramental. Fascinated by Ilona, the neighborhood crime boss, Edmund J. Dubuque, decides he will be her manager and introduce her to a classier clientele. As a fable about a whore with a heart of gold and a touch that sanctifies and heals, the story compels interest. Ultimately, however, it eludes credibility; in addition, the descriptive passages are sometimes pedestrian, and the elements of mysticism incongruous. January 27
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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