After She Left

Richard P. Brickner, Author Henry Holt & Company $0 (290p) ISBN 978-0-8050-0684-1
Readers who enjoyed the witty dialogue and rollercoaster of emotions in Brickner's unforgettable novel Tickets will find a more subtle but no less intelligently told story here. The eponymous ""she'' is Emily Weil's mother, who left her stockbroker husband, two daughters and a comfortable Park Avenue apartment to aid Jewish refugees during WW IIand subsequently died in Shanghai. Although only 10 when her mother left, Emily's life has been haunted by her absence. Images of her mother pervade her consciousness, sending an ambivalent message of abandonment and selfless love. We meet Emily as a teenager during the 1940s and follow her over the next decade as she tests her ambition to be an actress during a stint in summer stock, then joins a publishing firm after college. There are boyfriends, one-time sexual encounters and, eventually, a short-lived marriage. As Tickets revolved around opera at the Met, the central image here is of the Broadway theater, the atmosphere of heightened reality where Emily feels most alive. Her determination not to be ordinary, not to waste her life, is her mother's legacy, she realizes ultimately. Brickner has a remarkable ability to convey a young woman's thoughts and impressions. His portrait of Emily, however, while interesting, is overpowered and somehow trivialized by the enigmatic presence of the mother she has lost. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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