A Woman of Spirit

Herbert Tarr, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (309p) ISBN 978-1-55611-164-8
In the latest novel by the author of The Conversion of Chaplain Cohen , the protagonist, Hannah Brody Trilling--the ultimate self-sacrificing wife, mother, relative and friend--bears her burdens with grace and humor. She even manages to hide from everyone her husband's recurring bouts with cancer. On his deathbed, however, she discovers that he has been secretly hoarding his money, while she made do with secondhand clothes and groceries bought only with money-off coupons. Furious and hurt (``A sacrifice is no sacrifice when it's a necessity. But when it's a waste, a total waste . . .''), she embarks on a cruise on the QE2 (``a floating shiva''), leaving her two children to handle the details of the funeral. The widowed Hannah bears little resemblance to her formerly beleaguered self, except in her continuing devotion to her family and friends. She falls in love, travels, moves to an upscale neighborhood and discovers that her mindless doodlings were actually the work of a latent, talented artist. Unbelievable? Yes. And even though Tarr's deft comic flourishes and witty, often wise dialogue moves the novel along with alacrity, the reader is left bemused. Hannah is too good to be true--even in a fictional setting--and thus winds up more like a caricature than ``a woman of spirit.'' (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/01/1989
Release date: 11/01/1989
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