cover image In the Beginning

In the Beginning

Catherine Dunne. Random House (UK), $17.95 (282pp) ISBN 978-0-224-04426-4

What do you do when your husband of 20 years walks out one day without any warning? This debut from Irish novelist Dunne describes Rose Holden's desperate struggle to build a new life for herself after her husband flies off to Malaga with his business partner's wife. In alternating chapters, Dunne chronicles the prehistory of the Holdens' marriage and the ""internal revolution"" Rose experiences after Ben leaves her. In the process, Dunne depicts, with compelling clarity and precision, how married life can dissolve into soul-destroying routine and tragedy--and casts a cold eye on contemporary Irish norms of marriage and divorce. In spite of her initial humiliation at Ben's desertion, Rose soon realizes that she doesn't want her husband back. She discovers, instead, the frightening but exhilarating possibility of making a life of her own: raising her three children and supporting herself as a caterer, in a job that gives her a new view of the relation between the sexes. Dunne uses lucid, understated prose to tell this story of triumph and redemption. Her finely drawn characters and sharp insights make for an auspicious debut. (Apr.)