cover image I See a Long Journey: Three Novellas

I See a Long Journey: Three Novellas

Rachel Ingalls. Simon & Schuster, $14.7 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-62782-9

In prose as unself-conscious as a child's, three macabre tales of unspoken fear and longing are spun out: of a woman tamed to submissiveness by her husband's money and power; of a young girl who can't imagine life without her lover; and of a priest chosen by the Angel Gabriel to bear his child. Flora, in the title story, is induced by her husband, James, to take a vacation only because his chauffeur Michael, custodian of their persons and their purse, will accompany them. Because she is programmed to terror, thieves, rapists and kidnappers stalk her; eventually, she is assaulted and dies, but not before precipitating a denouement that will rock the most casual reader. Less appalling, but more puzzling, is Beverley's dilemma in ""On Ice'' when she arrives at an elegant hotel where she is going to pass the time while her fiance skis. There she meets a grande dame whose funeral, she suddenly recalls, she had witnessed 10 years before. The old lady opens a hidden door with a golden key, and Beverley is initiated into a conspiracy that will imprison her forever. The final story, dealing with monks who have not so much a vocation as a messianic sense of their importance, is both hilarious and ominous. In the end the omens triumph, as does this brief and perceptive book by the author of the celebrated Mrs. Caliban. (August 21)