One Is One

Lucy Irvine, Author Hodder & Stoughton $0 (256p) ISBN 978-0-340-50154-2
This sometimes affecting first novel by the British author of the autobiographical Castaway and Runaway is a curious blend of the sublime and the pedestrian. Alternating between first- and third-person narrative, it is the story of Julie Barton, a lonely 27-year-old whose life intersects those of three other people. The characters of Ann, a sweet old lady; Daley, a somewhat psychotic former employer; and Hodge, a ex-convict whom Julie meets when he falls through her skylight in a bungled burglary, are sensitively delineated and believable. (Curiously, another British novelist, Dee Wells, wrote Jane , in which a burglar falls through a skylight and becomes the lover of the woman whose apartment is invaded.) But Irvine's characters are all in exile within themselves. The title of the book would seem to be the moral as well: One is one and all alone, now and evermore. Irvine has a singular ability to draw details and dialogue. If Julie were only a little more sympathetic, the novel would have been more compelling. As it stands, there is too little relief from the dreariness of the characters' lives. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Hardcover - 978-0-340-50153-5
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