Lost Geography

Charlotte Bacon, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-19160-3
Everything goes in cycles in Bacon's quietly impressive debut novel (following her short story collection, A Private State), in which three generations of down-to-earth young women weathered by adversity seek less steady but sufficiently tractable men for taming, childbearing, then marriage. For Margaret in Saskatchewan in 1933, her daughter, Hilda, in Toronto, and her daughter, Danielle, in Paris, the more things change, the more they stay the same. All these women are strong, reserved, sensual, practical and capable of one major move, after which they settle down, eternally faithful to their offspring and the mate from whom they are parted only by death. Each man has one or two salient characteristics (Davis is a secret lover of beauty, Armand deals in antiques and generosity, Osman in secrets and gambling), but each couple is similarly devoted, and apart from a mother-in-law or two, sufficient one to the other. No one has friends outside the family. These are quiet people who communicate largely without talking, so the dialogue is limited, apart from pointed stories about earlier generations. Bacon's rather detached third-person narrative, which moves from husband to wife, also keeps the reader at a distance. But her prose has a pleasing simplicity that makes the book a quick and pleasurable read, and she captures moments well, as when Danielle and Osman, getting serious, ""sat there for a few more minutes, quietly measuring each other's capacity for danger."" Cool as the novel can be, its conclusion, set in 1990s New York, where Osman moves with their children, Sophie and Sasha, after Danielle's death, glows with a hard-won warmth. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-312-42052-9
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4668-3525-2
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