New Year's Eve

Lisa Grunwald, Author Crown Publishers $24 (352p) ISBN 978-0-517-70491-2
On New Year's Eve, the Marks family has traditionally gathered in their Manhattan home to waltz, drink champagne, watch Guy Lombardo on TV and watch the globe drop in Times Square. On New Year's Eve 1990, in a scene near the end of this strong new novel by Grunwald (The Theory of Everything), narrator Erica breaks with tradition and separates herself, husband Edgar and daughter Sarah to nourish her home without the interference of her controlling father and twin sister, Heather. This moment is the fruition of a well-crafted tale of family secrets, memories and myths. Tensions in the family begin to escalate after David, Heather's four-year-old son, is killed in an accident, and Sarah immediately believes he speaks to her from beyond the grave. Ironically, Dad and Heather, both medical doctors, prescribe playing along with Sarah's obsession, a dollhouse she and Heather are furnishing for David; they even engage a shady channeler who promises communication with the dead. Meanwhile, Erica, a university professor of mythology, grimly endures psychiatric help for her child and firmly resists her family's denial of death's finality. Flashbacks to the twins' childhood rivalry reveal the origins of their constant psychological tug-of-war (they even engage in a race to get pregnant) and how the family has sought a center since Mom's death. The denouement, an integration of story time and myth time, is poignant, and healing, with the promise of new life. It contrasts sharply with the climax, whose cruelty is all the more intense because it suggests that it is human nature to forget, time after time, the inhuman pain we inflict in the sacred name of ""family."" First serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild alternate selection; author tour. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/02/1996
Release date: 12/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-446-67403-4
Hardcover - 978-0-517-48381-7
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-7089-5876-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-17721-4
Prebound-Other - 366 pages - 978-0-613-16397-2
Open Ebook - 210 pages - 978-0-307-81975-8
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