cover image Daughters of the Revolution

Daughters of the Revolution

Carolyn Cooke. Knopf, $23.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-307-59473-0

Cooke's flinty first novel, coming nearly 10 years after her much-acclaimed collection, The Bostons, grapples with another set of crafty New Englanders, all involved, one way or another, with the Goode School of Boston in the late 1960s: head Goddard "God" Byrd, a seductive male chauvinist of nearly retirement age, is dead set against allowing girls into his beloved institution despite being himself the product of radical New England reformers; Heck, product of "a brilliant class" at Goode, dies in a suspicious accident at sea while boating with his best friend, Rebozos, widowing his young bride, Mei-Mei; and Heck and Mei-Mei's daughter, EV, becomes an essential narrator, observing her widowed mother's clumsy affair with Byrd, and growing friendly with the first girl admitted to the school in 1969, Carole%E2%80%94the half-black teenage daughter of Rebozos, it turns out. Each of the characters offers his or her own trajectory, moving through the 1970s and into the '80s, from Carole's political and artistic iconoclasm to EV's sexual initiation and move to New York, through to 2005, when Goode's transformation comes full circle. Though these taut narratives live in the book more as discrete stories than as moving parts of a novel, they are individually excellent. Cooke delivers on every page. (June)