Tidings

William Wharton, Author Henry Holt & Company $0 (259p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0532-5
In the idyllic setting of a lodge on a millpond in the French countryside, the narrator, Will, scrubs, sweeps, varnishes and lays a fire in preparation for his family's arrival on the day before Christmas. The next morning, driving through the snow to meet them, the litany of domestic and yuletide detail continues, along wth the rueful hint that this may be the last Christmas they will all spend together. Sure enough, once wife Loretta and the four children are assembled, each is given a chapter in which to spiel out individual woes. Loretta, who has remained sexually unsatisfied throughout 30 years of marriage, is having an affair, the married daughter wants a divorce, the unmarried one a baby, and the two sons some sort of center for their lives. All alternately mock and pity their old maid of a father, said to be a professor of philosophy but a dead ringer for a teacher of home ec, who, while his offspring are having their say, is lying awake agonizing over the fact that they have neglected to hang up their stockings. But miraculously, when they troop in to open their presents, there are the stockings, , hand-knitted, stuffed with presents designed to delight each recipient. Their provenance is never made clear in a book whose author (Birdy, Dad) otherwise finds it necessary to explain everything several times over, but never bothers to put flesh on his stick figures or write a line of authentic dialogue. (November 6)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-0-07-069504-7
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