Susan Robbin Chance, Author, Susan Chace, Author Random House (NY) $14.95 (161p) ISBN 978-0-394-57030-3
Her voice distinctive, candid and witty, 37-year-old journalist Mary Cecilia Cronstein, the narrator of this accomplished first novel, obliquely relates the story of a life spent in search of salvation. The tale begins with a mugging, a shocking incident told in short, declarative sentences resonant with implicationa prose style sustained throughout, adding impact to this and other events Cecilia describes. The daughter of a devout Catholic mother and a Jewish father whose first daughter diedand never ceased to be mournedbefore Cecilia's birth, she learns early on about death, purgatory and guilt. After a first marriage to a moral prig who cares more about his passion to save the world than about her affair with his brother, and who gains custody of their son, and a second union with an older man, a ``speeding train,'' who expresses his loss of control by beating her, Cecilia is left emotionally spent. Elliptical flashbacks illumine her childhood attempts to please her querulous, alcoholic mother, her own addiction to alcohol and drugs, her frantic, reckless search for meaning and inner peace. On nearly every page, the reader is startled by matter-of-fact statements that convey the extremes of emotion with a visceral thrust: guilt, fear, lust, longing, pain. In this beautifully controlled narrative, Chace reveals a probing intelligence and a compassionate heart. First serial to Paris Review. (Feb)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1988
Release date: 12/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
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