If You Knew Me

Anne Richardson Roiphe, Author Little Brown and Company $19.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-316-75430-9
An unlikely love affair between two lonely, awkward, middle-aged people is the subject of Roiphe's ultimately moving novel. Burnt out and restless, 40-ish molecular biologist Leah Rose is on sabbatical from her job in Manhattan, living quietly in her childhood home in a small seashore community. She meets English teacher Ollie Masters when she helps rescue his retarded, obese sister Sally from the surf. Leah and Ollie's ensuing relationship is shadowed by Sally's demanding presence, Ollie's sense of responsibility toward his sibling and the dark secret he eventually reveals. Roiphe's characterization of three difficult, needy people is subtle and intense. Those familiar with her lengthy and detailed novels of family life ( Lovingkindness ; The Pursuit of Happiness ), will be surprised both by the brevity of this work and by a new prose style. Perhaps in an effort to approximate a scientist's direct, rational thought process, Roiphe uses terse and repetitive declarative sentences:``She rubbed her leg. She felt hot and cold. She gulped down her tea.'' The unadorned prose becomes increasingly appropriate as Roiphe moves a deceptively simple plot (with several intriguing subtexts) toward a twisting denouement that not only effectively confounds the reader's predictions but is at once realistic and poignant. Moreover, as the narrative tension accelerates, one becomes aware of Roiphe's maturing wisdom about life and love and human relationships. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-446-67071-5
Hardcover - 296 pages - 978-0-7862-0077-1
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