cover image Lantern Slides

Lantern Slides

Edna O'Brien. Farrar Straus Giroux, $18.95 (328pp) ISBN 978-0-374-18332-5

A nostalgic sense of place--sleepy moss-covered villages, grand houses, bleak seaside resorts--pervades these 12 enchanting tales by the accomplished author of The Country Girls Trilogy. O'Brien's passionate, voluble characters display a gift of Irish gab as rich as the teas and jamcakes they savor in their snug country parlors. Most are women and girls in various stages of loneliness, craving, love and regret, some on the edge of madness. The wild rambling of Eileen (``The Storm''), who accompanies her son and his girlfriend on a holiday, betrays the harsh tensions among the three. Maisie, the tempestuous narrator of ``Brother,'' reveals her sensual bond with her sibling, and the murderous lengths to which she will go in order to hold him. In ``What a Sky,'' a daughter visits her aged father in a nursing home and hears with chagrin of his fondness for a young nun there. Scandals keep the gossips twittering in ``Dramas,'' about a gay grocer as aspiring actor; in ``Widow,'' where the neighbors spy on shameless Bridget; and in `` `Oft in the Stilly Night,' '' which logs the intimate doings of a town. The engaging voices in these stories often sound as self-absorbed as overheard soliloquies. (June)