Lilian's Story

Kate Grenville, Author Viking Books $16.95 (227p) ISBN 978-0-670-80929-5
Lilian begins her book with her own birth and almost manages to conclude it from beyond the grave, but only occasionally exacts from the reader genuine interest in her affairs. In fact, she is a fat, lonely child who becomes a fat, eccentric (though, she insists, brilliant) woman. Her mother is afflicted by vapors, her father by pseudo-intellectuality and her younger brother by the shyness common to boys who wear glasses. Since it is hinted early on that Father's proclivities are not wholly cerebral, his incestuous attack upon Lilian is not a shock, but his subsequent insults and vituperations, culminating in his having her committed, seem without foundation. Although he accuses her of behaving like a whore, Lilian remains a virgin throughout and indeed, once out of the asylum, lives chastely with a drunken cabdriver until he dies. This award-winning first novel by Australian writer Grenville promises more than it delivers. Lilian's story, however, often has the quality of a dream recounted while the dreamer is half asleep. This alone is a remarkable achievement. (August 4)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1986
Release date: 08/01/1986
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