Sweet Desserts

Lucy Ellmann, Author, Luc Ellmann, Author Viking Books $17.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-82711-4
Brief and acerbic, this first novel by a daughter of the late Richard Ellmann details the emotional ups and downs of two American sisters, Suzy and Franny Schwartz, who are daughters of a prominent Oxford art historian. Seemingly cynical from birth, the two women court unhappiness with a fatalism caused in part by the early death (from a ``Neurological Event'') of their mother, and ultimately confirmed by the lingering death of their kindly, self-effacing father, tacitly acknowledged as the only good guy around. The weaknesses of the sisters include food-binging/purging; sexual waywardness; professional muddle (each writes art criticism sporadically); and lovelessness. Making mistakes about men is their forte. Suzy, unwisely involved with Jeremy and unexpectedly pregnant, tartly notes, ``If I was going to commit suicide as the result of an abortion, I would have to have the baby, it was decided by Jeremy.'' Winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize in England, this funny but meager novel is arch to a fault, composed of bitter, staccato snippets of observations on the frustrations of life. Ellmann writes about art for the Times Literary Supplement. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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