The Three Graces

Elizabeth Wix, Author Soho Press $19.95 (276p) ISBN 978-0-939149-29-2
Set in late 1960s England, mainly Oxford, and then ``on the Continent'' in Florence, Wix's readable yet essentially pedestrian first novel relates how her two upper-middle-class English heroines stumble from late adolescence to the brink of adulthood. The three women, who evidently personify the three Classical attributes, are the dazzlingly gifted, accomplished and self-assured Elinor Fane as Wisdom; her spirited and artistic young sister Clare, whom she overshadows, as Fruitfulness; and, as Beauty, their school friend Antonia Acton who, for all her ethereal loveliness, has been left emotionally adrift by the death of her mother and her adored father's neglect. But Elinor, certainly a challenging subject as Wisdom, is a shadowy, peripheral figure, and the narrative revolves around the painful, but valiant, struggles of Clare and Antonia. Each of these engaging heroines centers herself disastrously on the man in her life, losing her strength, ebullience and independence in the process. But with youthful resilience, they survive their feckless, disordered lives of drugs, haphazard sleep and diet and casually undertaken sex--and grow. Wix recaptures with wry perception the texture of these rites of passage, and the particulars of time and place, but her competent craftsmanship lacks distinctive personality. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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