cover image Shadow Song

Shadow Song

Terry Kay. Pocket Books, $20 (388pp) ISBN 978-0-671-89261-6

Perhaps destined to become this season's The Bridges of Madison County , this sentimental romance novel by the author of To Dance with the White Dog pulls on the heartstrings as it tells a bittersweet tale of thwarted love. Naive and gentlemanly Madison Lee (``Bobo'') Murphy is 17 when, in 1955, he leaves rural Georgia to work at a resort in the Catskills, where he experiences instant culture shock among the inn's Jewish clientele. He comes under the influence of Avrum Feldman, an elderly eccentric who has devoted his life to the memory of Amelita Galli-Curci, the legendary soprano: ``the voice of the music spoke to Avrum, and the power to wish, to dream, was released in him.'' Avrum is regarded by locals as a crazy old man; but Bobo cherishes him as a prophet and visionary, and Avrum encourages Bobo when he falls chastely in love with Amy Lourie, a rich Jewish girl from New York visiting the resort with her protective parents. Bobo and Amy spend an unforgettable summer, but then they part, ignoring Avrum's pronouncements about the importance of ``one grand, undeniable moment of change.'' Now, 38 years later, Bobo has returned to the Catskills to bury Avrum--and discovers that Amy is there too. Though Kaye obviously models his narrative style on Pat Conroy, he does not have the same gifts for melodious prose. But he conveys his homespun truths and a heavy air of nostalgia with enough skill to make readers project their own wish-fulfillment fantasies onto his second-time-around lovers. Major ad/promo; film rights sold to Warner Brothers and the Lee Rich Company; audio rights to Simon & Schuster; Literary Guild selection; author tour. (Oct.)