I Cannot Get You Close Enough: Three Novellas

Ellen Gilchrist, Author Back Bay Books $12.95 (391p) ISBN 978-0-316-31423-7
Readers of Gilchrist's short story collections ( Victory over Japan ; I Cannot Get You Close Enough ) have watched headstrong Rhoda Manning grow into an intelligent, independent yet spoiled and self-destructive adult. In making her the protagonist of this compelling novel, Gilchrist has broadened and deepened her portrayal to create a fascinating portrait of a young woman's difficult coming-of-age in the Deep South of the 1950s. Eschewing the prettified characteristics of a conventional heroine, Gilchrist candidly depicts Rhoda's racial and class prejudices and essential disinterest in civil rights until growing maturity deepens her understanding and involves her in a personal way. Meanwhile, we gain insight into her family's dynamics--her domineering, hot-tempered father and class-obsessed mother--and the influences that make her conform not only to the image of the Southern party girl but also to abuse alcohol and rely on habit-forming drugs. Not surprisingly, Rhoda is drawn to a man who resembles her father; her marriage to Malcolm Martin, an ``ice cold Georgia aristocrat with a fierce libido,'' is disastrous. Gracefully evoking a time and place--with the cruelty of social injustice subsumed beneath the daily routines of a rich life--Gilchrist surrounds Rhoda with other characters of appealing vitality. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
Hardcover - 391 pages - 978-0-316-31313-1
Ebook - 391 pages - 978-1-4804-1738-0
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