A Coven of Women

Jean Brody, Author Atheneum Books $16.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-689-11863-0
Remarkable for its depth, spirited characterizations and quiet intensity, Brody's economically written second novel (after Gideon's House spans the 20th century in describing nine exceptional women. Born in 1890, spunky Vida Austin pens posthumous tributes about those she cherishes, stores them in a box and surreptitiously pretends that her deceased ""family'' still liveseven pets and former boyfriends. Just before she dies in 1970, Vida consigns her trove to her spellbound great-niece, Megan. Ten years later, Megan, a journalist, satisfies her lingering curiosity about the memorable females Vida knewand their descendantsby investigating their pasts (each is portrayed in a separate chapter). In the most affecting tale, Vida's ascetic sister shirks ``the burdens of affection'' until a little boy and an abandoned bird enliven her life. In another, Catherine, daughter of Vida's friend Emily, tries to retrieve her adulterous spouse by casting spells on him. The recurrent, unifying element in all nine sharply etched stories is magic, especially the earthly kind that emanates from companionship, selfless giving and the reverent transmission of treasured memories from generation to generation. (June 9)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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