Sarah Conley

Ellen Gilchrist, Author Little Brown and Company $34 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-31477-0
Fans who have become a bit tired of the inbred, eccentric cast of characters who generally inhabit Gilchrist's short stories and novels will find the protagonist of this novel to be refreshingly new psychological territory. At 52, Sarah Conley is a successful journalist (a senior editor at Time) and an NBA winner (she wrote a roman a clef that antagonized the boon companions of her youth). Bright, independent and focused, Sarah has ruthlessly pursued fulfillment as a writer. She divorced after six years of an early marriage and as a result lost custody of her son (whose paternity is in doubt) to her ex-husband, who is the brother of the man Sarah has always loved, Jack McAllen--who married Sarah's best friend, Eugenie Moore. Now Jack calls Sarah to tell her that Eugenie is dying. Sarah flies to Nashville, where she sees Eugenie one last time and feels again the passion for Jack that derailed her life once before. When she goes to Paris to write a screenplay and Jack pursues her, Sarah fears that she must make a choice between her high-powered career and the needs of her heart. It is here that Sarah may begin to grate on readers: she is just too smart, good-looking, sexy and successful, and even her dilemma lacks the drama to make her completely appealing. On the positive side, the narrative is energized by Gilchrist's comments on contemporary life, including some swipes at ethics at Time and in the movie industry. The dynamics of relationships, always her forte, have a new depth as her characters look back on the self-centered optimism of youth from the vantage point of middle-age, having become aware of their mortality, the diminishing opportunities for love and the compromises that occur in every life, no matter how fortunate. The quirky cadences of Gilchrist's prose and her witty, dialogue (though her characters talk like no one else except other Gilchrist characters) are present here in abundance. But the most salient aspect of this novel is its recognition that the past can't be revoked and the future will arrive no matter what one decides. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-87760-4
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-316-31492-3
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