Sailing

Susan Kenney, Author Viking Books $18.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-81229-5
One need not have read In Another Country, Kenney's previous novel about the Boyd family, to fully appreciate this eloquent, moving sequel, but readers who were waiting for this work will not be disappointed. Again the setting is the small Maine community where Phil is a college professor and Sara a sculptor. Some five years and two operations since Phil's rare form of kidney cancer was discovered, he and Sara are still battling valiantly against the disease. But the tensions in their marriage, arising from their differences of background and temperament, have been exacerbated by the struggle; Phil is resentful of Sara's seemingly impervious optimism, coupled with her constant vigilance and overprotectiveness. When Sara buys him a boat as evidence of her faith in his survival, sailing becomes Phil's obsession. Sara, on the other hand, is consumed by anxiety over Phil's constant testing of his strength and her own new fear of deep water. In passages of lyric beauty and emotional resonance, Kenney makes sailing a metaphor for life and for Phil's fight against his illness. The book's form, frequently switching among flashbacks, is not quite so successful; discriminating between Phil's various fateful lab reports and hospital stays takes careful attention. While Kenney conveys the poignancy of the situation, she avoids pathos, and she interjects humor through scenes of family life in a rambling old house with two children, various pets and recalcitrant appliances. Most important, this is a powerful testament of the power of love to transcend tragedy, written with uncompromising honesty and insight. 35,000 first printing; first serial to Redbook; Literary Guild alternate. (April)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1988
Release date: 04/01/1988
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-14-009333-9
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