Invitation to the Married Life

Angela Huth, Author Grove/Atlantic $19.95 (290p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1465-5
In the tradition of Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Margaret Drabble's The Radiant Way, Huth's novel invites us we are invited to a lavish party and the preparations for it in and around Oxford, England. The ball itself--a hilariously overwrought affair thrown by Frances and Toby Farthingoe--serves as the grand finale to a series of variations on the theme of marriage. By the time the music dies away, we know a handful of the participants, their dreams and their frustrations. Thomas Arkwright, one of the more tormented characters, speaks for all of them when he says that ``sometimes a man finds himself at a crossroads''; even Ursula and Mary, two of the happier women, struggle for balance and endure anxiety. With considerable skill (aside from a few awkward flashbacks), Huth ( Nowhere Girl ; Virginia Fly Is Drowning ) has choreographed an elaborate dance of sorts for nearly a dozen characters--young and old, loyal and adulterous. She conveys physical gestures (``indignant shoulders hunched up, spiky fingers riffling through peanuts as if they were worry beads'') as cannily as she captures the emotional complexities of intimacy and desire. She has fun while she's at it, and so will the reader. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/02/1992
Release date: 11/01/1992
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