True to its title, Peck's second novel for adults (after A Bed by the Window) imagines an afterlife which, through a number of set pieces, dramatizes some of the earthly concerns of his other books, including the perpetual bestseller, The Road Less Traveled. Daniel, a psychiatrist and successful author much like Peck himself, awakens in a small green room to discover that he has survived his physical death. Hovering about, disembodied but alert, he meets a pair of ""greeters"" who inform him that heaven, hell and purgatory--Judeo-Christian ideas pervade the narrative--are governed by a ""Principle of Freedom."" Each soul projects what it wishes to experience--though sometimes, as with Daniel's green refuge, projections are created by committees in order to ease the ""Adjustment"" from life to the formlessness of heaven. Peck's hell is a garbage can in which about 140,000 souls hide under rocks, too terrified to accept their freedom to choose a greater reality. In time, Daniel learns that purgatory has to do with clinging to mental and emotional attachments; to help the souls there, the most attentive and loving psychotherapy imaginable is provided. Several further encounters--with his deceased wife, a son, a seductive woman--help Daniel let go of his own attachments until he is ready to join a committee. Though talky and lacking dramatic momentum, this story, more a consoling philosophical vision than a full-bodied novel, should appeal to Peck's readership. Major ad/promo. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996 Release date: 05/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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