The Edge of Heaven

Marita Golden, Author Doubleday Books $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-41507-1
The loving but tormented relationship between a young black law student and her mother is the center of this uneven fourth novel, set in Washington, D.C., by the author of And Do Remember Me. With a compelling gift for plotting, Golden makes it clear from the opening page that some terrible event has befallen Teresa's fragile family. The tension mounts as readers wait several chapters to discover that Teresa's mother, Lena, is going to trial--and even longer to find out why. The trio of women who inhabit the narrative are familiar but well-drawn: Ma Adele, the pious, stoic matriarch; Lena, the strong-willed, ambitious career woman determined to control her husband and children; and Teresa, the deeply ambivalent, sophisticated daughter. Golden tells their story through a mixture of third- and first-person narration: the story both belongs to Teresa and transcends her. Golden's theme seems to be the vulnerability of the fatherless black family, but she is scanty with social analysis, relying, perhaps, on readers' preconceptions.Though much of the narrative is compelling, Golden's prose is sometimes overwrought, marred by stiff sentences and frequent solecisms (e.g., ""convicted"" for ""convinced""; ""lay"" for ""lie"" and ""fulsome"" as praise) that detract from the novel's strengths and the issues it raises about black families in America. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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