How does one recover from unexpected misfortune? With steely grace and relentless optimism, if acclaimed short story writer and novelist Thurm (The Clairvoyant) has anything to do with it. From New York and Florida to California, her characters consistently pick themselves up, dust themselves off and make lemonade with the lemons life has handed them. Thurm's 13 stories, most dealing with the consequences of divorce, are a mixture of heartbreak and humor a rabbi's wife announces in front of the congregation that she's leaving him; a divorced father falls for a lesbian; newlyweds live across town from each other, neither willing to give up their apartments. But her most powerful stories showcase her ability to express deep emotion with a raw, naked intensity. In the truly agonizing ""Pleasure Palace,"" Lynnie grieves over her young husband, who has just died of a brain hemorrhage, and attempts to adjust to life without him. In ""Mourners,"" from which the collection's title is taken, Kay's husband leaves her after he discovers her affair with their daughter's teacher. Kay is unsure why she sabotaged her own marriage, other than out of ennui. She becomes unrecognizable to herself and is desperate for her husband to notice a change in her: ""What's come over you? she'd longed to hear him ask."" Thurm urges the reader to ask: do we realize how precious something is only once we've lost it? One imagines the characters crossing into each other's stories, advising them to treat their relationships with care, like an adult cautioning a child to appreciate youth. (June) Forecast: Although The Clairvoyant was a New York Times Notable book, popular success has proved elusive for Thurm. Handselling and major reviews will be crucial to the success of this collection, but don't expect miracles.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2001 Release date: 06/01/2001 Genre: Fiction