Portrait of the Artist's Wife

Barbara Anderson, Author W. W. Norton & Company $21.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-393-03489-9
Possessed of an assured, pared-down wisdom, this appealing novel opens as New Zealand painter Sarah Tandy gives a eulogy for her late husband, writer Jack Macalister, at a reception in honor of his posthumously published novel. What follows is the delicately drawn third-person recollection of Sarah's life with Jack, as both artist's wife and artist in her own right. Anderson ( Girls' High ) portrays Sarah, Jack, their friends and family with deft subtlety, her unflagging attention to everyday details (those selected and those left out) establishing significance in an indirect, convincing way. The narrative voice is true to each stage of Sarah's life, beginning with her childhood, shared with Jack as a family friend, through the early years of their marriage, their foibles and infidelities, to Sarah's struggle to find herself through her work while still fulfilling the roles of wife and mother. Sarah at 20 is as believable and engrossing a character as she is at 50. Anderson weaves together events of several decades in a seamless, succinct narrative that captures both the simplicity and the complexity of her character's life. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
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