A Richer Dust

Amy Boaz, Author . Permanent $26 (215p) ISBN 978-1-57962-159-9

In her beguiling debut, Boaz ambitiously plays three time periods against one another to form a complex portrait of a brave, iconoclastic woman. In the summer of 1924, young, near-deaf, London-educated painter Doll follows British social philosopher Abe Bronstone and his German divorcée wife, Vera, to Taos, N.Mex.; there, the three plan to make a “fresh start” away from a “corrupt and rotten” Europe befouled by WWI. Flashbacks revisit Doll's childhood as the daughter of Victorian aristocrats and her student years at Slade School of Fine Art; the nartative jumps ahead to 1963 to relate the “folly of an old woman” in Doll's very physical affair with a much, much younger local man who may be mestizo. The forceful juxtaposition of the repressed, idealistic doings of 1924 against the totally erotic 1963; a spare lyricism that makes the sparse New Mexico landscape gloriously vivid; and page-turning suspense in the charged Doll-Abe-Vera triangle (centering on the attraction between Doll and Abe) mark this as an accomplished first novel by a gifted stylist. The novel is very loosely based on the life of painter Dorothy Brett (1882–1977), who followed D.H. Lawrence and his wife to Taos in 1924, and Abe's monologues sometimes spiral amusingly into Lawrence-like preachments. In the touching denouement, Boaz brings the three phases of Doll's life together with subtlety and warm humor. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/19/2007
Release date: 03/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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