Southern Light

J. R. Salamanca, Author Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (675p) ISBN 978-0-394-48252-1
In the ornate, fine-spun, highly colored prose that also marked his earlier work (Lilith, A Sea Change, Salamanca sets his long novel on a small island in Chesapeake Bay and inhabits it with two principal charactersCarl Ransome, a retired physician, and Sylvia Linthicum, a youngish college teacher on sabbatical leave. Troubled by memories of his late wife, disquieted by meditations on death, Ransome is trying to locate, define, assess the moral meaning of his life. Sylvia is blind, tormented by her loss of sight. Their lives become intricately involved and they establish an intimate though not overtly sexual friendship. Each acts as a sounding-board for the other; he tells of his failures of feeling and she of her love for her brother, of compensatory affairs and her emotional aridity. Slowly, they achieve insight: he sees the truths of his past, and she understands the reason for her sudden blindness, incurred at the very moment of incestuous consummation. The novel is overlong and the prose can be oppressively sumptuous and preening; but the narrative has a seductive appeal. (March 7)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1986
Release date: 02/01/1986
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