Painting on Glass

Jessica Auerbach, Author W. W. Norton & Company $16.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-393-02545-3
With a sure, subtle touch, Auerbach evokes the Vietnam War protests and drug culture of the '60s, while recounting a touching story. Close friends from childhood, expected by their respective parents to marry, Rachel Rothstein and Jake Marsh have maintained their relationship by pretending to themselves that they are in love with other people. When Jake leaves Yale and goes to Canada to evade the draft, Rachel begins an affair with Ben, another Yalie who resembles Jake, and, in her own escape from her parents' expectations, impulsively marries him. Ben is a typical counterculture prototype: cool, laid-back and charming, but also unstable, irresponsible, manipulative and lazy. Rachel has continued to correspond with Jake; his letters speaking of the anguish of exile are much more mature, sensitive and brave than hers in reply. In a panic when she reaches a crisis in her marriage, Rachel runs to Jake, the ""friend'' who has always been there for her. He, however, is involved with another woman and is beginning to make breakthroughs in his career as a painter. Describing one of his workspainting on glasshe says: ``the first laid stroke is the one that counts,'' because it can never be changed. Rachel is forced to examine the dynamics of their relationship, confront her feelings and make a courageous decision. Gracefully crafted, psychologically nuanced, deeply satisfying, Auerbach's novel has not one hackneyed, predictable episode, not one wrong note. She has fulfilled the promise of her first novel, Winter Wife. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
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