Ambition and Love CL

Ward S. Just, Author, Just S. Ward, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $22.95 (277p) ISBN 978-0-395-68196-1
Cosmopolitan and elegiac, Just's 10th novel (after The Translator ) is full of subtle delights and rewards. Structured as a flashback, the story begins with an accidental meeting in Paris between expatriate painter Georgia Whyte and self-exiled novelist Harry Forrest. The two reminisce about their near-romantic connection years ago in Chicago, after which Harry begins to reflect on Georgia's life. And an interesting saga it is, beginning with the painter's initial artistic breakthrough in California and her experience of a menage a trois with a young SoCal couple devoted to surfing. The second half of the novel finds Georgia in Paris, where she delves deeply into her creativity and slowly falls in love with a jazz pianist. The damaged, fragile Georgia proves both a memorable character and an ideal vehicle for Just's musings on love, desire and art as he weaves together past and present with a master's touch, preserving a sense of surprise throughout. By rendering the California scenes with a touch of grit, Just keeps the rest of his narrative from becoming too mannered, and his well-drawn male characters add depth and dimension to Georgia's artistic and personal development. This is a wonderful change of pace for Just, whose main bailiwick to date has been political fiction; here his writing exhibits new dimensions. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
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