Farm Under a Lake

Martha Bergland, Author Graywolf Press $17.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-55597-119-9
In luminous, limpid prose, unmarred by false notes or easy cliches, Bergland tells the tale of a woman, as recognizable as a sister or oneself, who finds her life at age 40 different from what she had expected it to be--and has the courage to examine how and why. Janet Hawn is a private nurse who agrees to drive her latest charge, a wilfully mute but beautiful old woman named May, from Wisconsin to her daughter's home in Illinois. Janet's husband Jack, unemployed for over a year, has fallen into a sour hopelessness utterly uncharacteristic of the exuberant, energetic young man she married two decades before. Traveling south with May, Janet drives in the direction of her own rural childhood home, where she and Jack and his siblings grew up. In an attempt to regain her love for Jack and a chance for their shared hopes to ripen, Janet reexamines her young self and the events of the summer before her marriage, when she loved both Jack and his brother. Bergland's delicate but unflinching touch extends from character to setting; like her evocations of childhood, her descriptions of weather and landscape are rich without extravagance. This fine first novel is marked in all aspects by deftness, honesty and compassion. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989

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Paperback - 199 pages - 978-0-679-73011-8
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-7475-0733-8
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