White Wings

Dan Montague, Author, Daniel F. Montague, Author, F. Daniel Montague, Author Dutton Books $24.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-525-94303-7
Spanning nearly 60 years, Montague's first novel makes elegant use of a sailboat as a vessel for the stories of three women. Matthew Adams, a young high-school art teacher, whips back the tarpaulin from White Wings in the dimness of a Marblehead, Mass., garage. When he longingly touches the hull, he is virtually transported back to the 1973 storm in which White Wings was shattered upon the rocks and its skipper, Becky DeWolf, mother of 50-ish innkeeper Taylor Hayakawa, disappeared at sea. To Taylor, White Wings is the most concrete relic of an elusive family. The crippled sailboat is a metaphor for all her relationships. She has only a single photograph of her father, a fighter pilot who died in an air battle over North Africa in 1941 before she was born; she confronts an aching void when she thinks of her mother's death; her Japanese ex-husband is culturally worlds away; and she is only tenuously connected to her sleek and brittle daughter, Rebecca. Matthew's uncanny reaction to the vessel convinces Taylor to let him restore it, and he soon discovers that the physical damage to the boat is inconsistent with the accepted story of Becky's demise. The boat keeps giving up tantalizing clues that lead Taylor and the others to the truth about her mother, her parentage, the delicious symmetry of chance and a love story that could only have occurred in the chaos of war. Each resolved mystery reveals yet another more perplexing one, but Matthew and the women of White Wings emerge, as does this moving novel, strong, graceful, and resilient. (July) FYI: An ex-CIA agent and Episcopal priest, Montague has also worked as a Massachusetts government executive.
Reviewed on: 06/30/1997
Release date: 07/01/1997
Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-451-19565-4
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