The Wedding

Dorothy West, Author Doubleday Books $20 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-47143-5
The tranquility of a late summer weekend in 1953 is shattered by a tragic accident in this spare, affecting novel by one of the last surviving members of the Harlem Renaissance. The Oval, the exclusive black enclave on Martha's Vineyard, prepares for the marriage of Shelby Coles, daughter of one of the community's most admired couples. Shelby's choice of white jazz musician Meade Wyler awakens dormant but unresolved racial issues in her family, which includes her physician father, enduring a loveless but socially proper union; her mother, confronting a dwindling pool of partners for her discreet affairs, and her great-grandmother, who dreams of escaping her ambivalence by returning to her aristocratic Southern roots. The arrival of black artisan Lute McNeil upsets the precarious equilibrium of the Oval when his aggressive pursuit of Shelby leads to disaster. Through the ancestral histories of the Coles family, West (The Living Is Easy) subtly reveals the ways in which color can burden and codify behavior. The author makes her points with a delicate hand, maneuvering with confidence and ease through a sometimes incendiary subject. Populated by appealing characters who wrestle with the nuances of race at every stage of their lives, West's first novel in 45 years is a triumph. BOMC and QPB featured selection. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Hardcover - 978-0-385-47915-8
Library Binding - 314 pages - 978-0-7862-0431-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-2375-2
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-47144-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 250 pages - 978-0-671-53562-9
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