cover image A Narrow Time-V568

A Narrow Time-V568

Michael Downing. Vintage Books USA, $6.95 (227pp) ISBN 978-0-394-75568-7

The author of this impressive first novel not only successfully writes from a woman's point of view but also tells a thoroughly engrossing story about emotional upheaval in a middle-class family. Anne Fossicker is a successful magazine editor who has a good, thoughtful husband, Ted, and three bright children. She has experienced an uneasy relationship with her parents, especially her mother, who is a constant source of guilt for Anne and who can't comprehend why Anne wants to work. One day the Fossickers' youngest daughter disappears from school, an event that turns the family inside out. Anne feels that if she had been at home, Sarah would not be missing. Ted is unhappy when Anne disengages from the family and he tires of having to fill in for her with the children. In turn, the children try to help their parents, but they're upset by Anne's emotional absence. Downing has created a shattering study of relationships told in an extraordinary voice. This is a superior portrait of human suffering and pain. (November)