In this touchingly whimsical tale darkened by the undercurrent of a serious parable, Wharton ( Birdy ; Franky Furbo ) explores moments in which sexuality and art intersect. As in Wharton's previous novels, the protagonist is an artist, here, American expatriate painter Jack, 49, who is recovering from a broken marriage and years of scrambling in the corporate rat race. Now penniless, Jack subsists as a squatter in a Paris attic and paints in a public square, where he meets Mirabelle, a blind, 71-year-old, self-appointed pigeon lady who cares for the birds who flutter about his easel. Between Jack and Mirabelle springs a friendship that deepens into an improbable but impassioned sexual union. Mirabelle's blindness is psychological; its sudden onset occurred at age 14 when her mother committed suicide. While their love is often heavily belabored (``In your blindness you taught me to see,'' Jack tells her), it does produce miracles. Difficulties arise when Jack's wife wants him back, but Mirabelle's frailty in the end helps him solve his dilemma. Jack's bizarre homage to Mirabelle at the story's close somewhat redeems the novel from sentimentality. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991 Release date: 05/01/1991 Genre: Fiction
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