Catching the Light

Susan L. Pope, Author Viking Books $18.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-83328-3
Though filled with characters who are held in thrall by their feelings, Pope's first novel lacks emotional heft. Damaris Bishop, whose Cape Cod childhood is rudely interrupted by the death of her glassblower father and mother, is set off course again when she becomes pregnant at 17. Estranged from the grandparents who raised her, the tiresomely tenacious Damaris finds solace in a trinity of women: Josesic, no accent , a sympathetic boardinghouse proprietress who gives the girl a new home; Mary Bea, a free spirit who helps to restore Damaris's sense of self; and, at length, her grandmother, who feels compassion for Damaris despite her grandfather's strict naysaying. Athough the author aims to show the difficulty of taking responsibility for one's life, she does so by placing Damaris in conflict with characters all cut from the same good-hearted cloth; even her grandfather is well-meaning, deep down, and her former lover tries to do the right thing by Damaris when he learns he is the father of her son. Thus her struggle is more than a little anticlimatic. And Pope's unsteady poetic bent--the narrative is burdened with phrases like ``as pale and translucent as the inside of your thigh''--does not always stand her in good stead. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1990
Release date: 07/01/1990
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