Mystery Ride

Robert Boswell, Author Alfred A Knopf Inc $22 (333p) ISBN 978-0-679-41292-2
Boswell's memorable second novel, Crooked Hearts , about a dsyfunctional family, established his reputation on the literary scene. His next book, The Geography of Desire , was earnest but inchoate with his need to make a statement. This new work makes a brilliant return to the subject Boswell writes about with distinctive tenderness and humor: a marriage that has fractured, although the love husband and wife once felt for each other endures as a touchstone in their lives. The novel reflects Boswell's increasing maturity and wisdom; its characters--especially an exasperating teenager--are vivid and fresh, its truths poignant and penetrating. The ``Mystery Ride'' (from a Springsteen song) is marriage, and here is ``the almost inexhaustible mystery of love found and lost.'' Brimming with high ideals, Angela and Stephen Landis wed in the '60s and moved to a farm in Iowa, where their daughter Dulcie was born. Later, desperate for a life outside the confines of the farm and its small community, Angela left Stephen. She has remarried, and Dulcie is a rebellious, almost dangerously unstable adolescent when Angela returns to the farm for the first time in a decade to leave the fractious 15-year-old with her father. As Boswell cross-cuts among different events over a 20-year span, he draws a nuanced portrait of decent people striving to connect with each other. A fundamentalist Christian couple in the farm community is sketched with as much empathy as Angela's second, philandering husband and Stephen's understanding girlfriend. Boswell's compassion for his characters, his coherent control of motivation and plot, help him build to a series of tremendously affecting events, followed by Dulcie's quiet epiphany and an unforgettable ending. The dialogue has wit and energy, and the details of farm routine are rendered with impressive authenticity. Most important, the book is charged with insight, resonating with questions about how one leads a moral, fulfilling life and accepts the mystery of love. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/04/1993
Release date: 01/01/1993
Hardcover - 978-0-517-13753-6
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-06-097585-2
Hardcover - 631 pages - 978-1-56054-750-1
Hardcover - 631 pages - 978-1-56054-799-0
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