Love in Full Bloom

Margaret Fowler, Author, M. W. Fowler, Editor, Priscilla McCutcheon, Editor Ballantine Books $11 (381p) ISBN 978-0-345-38221-4
This collection of short stories represents a well-meaning attempt to demonstrate the complexity of romantic experience among the elderly. Unfortunately, due to undeveloped characters and weak plots, many of the tales unwittingly propagate the stereotypes of old people as sexless and inflexible. Edna O'Brien's protagonist is a retired cabaret dancer who develops a dreamy passion for an angelic young actor she finds sleeping in the municipal garden she tends; but she backs off for fear he might someday abandon her. In William Humphrey's tale, a 76-year-old woman in a stale marriage receives a surprise call from an old lover and decides to make a break until guilt shackles her to her past. Luckily, the collection is peppered with more compelling stories and more daring characters. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's Indian widow has a love-hate affair with a racist Dutchman that offends her children, but she ultimately chooses passion over family. In Alice Adams's story, an art historian remembers a near-affair between her musicologist husband and a young researcher decades earlier and wonders for a moment what would have happened to them both if he had left her then. Fowler and McCutcheon co-edited Songs of Experience . (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/1994
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