Age of Consent

Joanne Greenberg, Author Henry Holt & Company $0 (277p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0542-4
With lucidity, compassion and suspense, Greenberg (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden) addresses confounding issues: Can ""a living saint'' internationally known for his altruism actually be an utterly cold human being? Are some personalities so intricate that they defy comprehension? Should the fallibilities of great men, however glaring, be forgiven in light of their uncommon heroism? These dilemmas confront Vivian Sanborn Eitzer in 1980 on the death of her esteemed brother, Dr. Daniel Sanborn, ambushed while traveling with the Archbishop of Malaga. An affluent, sheltered New York widow, Vivian had idolized Daniel, who ventured to the world's most ravaged countries to perform reconstructive facial surgery on children. But as she probes this aloof, revered man's life, Vivian makes shocking discoveries. Several nuns return from their service with Daniel in states of physical and emotional disintegration; one man cannot speak of Daniel without sobbing uncontrollably; scarcely anyone offers a significant personal insight about him. Chilling questions arise: Why did Daniel bequeath money to a repugnantly vulgar comedian, and was Daniel, not the Archbishop, the assassins' real target? Greenberg portrays every character, especially Vivian, with subtlety and grace. Without being judgmental, she illumines the awesome complexity of those in whom admirable qualities co-exist with terrible flaws. (November 30)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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