Second-novelist Grove (Last Dance, ) traces the fortunes of a family over some 40 years after the father leaves it, in 1946, as his midlife crisis turns permanent. Told from various points of view, the novel builds momentum as it cuts back and forth in time and offers a satisfying panorama of types. Eric Downer, the father, leaves to become ``the expatriate artist'' with ``the woman in gray.'' The tone throughout here is elegiac: ``I know that those moments when the body was lithe and vibrant and dancing are as quicksilver—they run through the fingers, unrecapturable.'' While Eric pursues a new career as a sculptor, the story—framed by a gathering for his 85th birthday— follows first daughter Roo, then the other children (daughter Dana, son Denis, and former wife). Roo is seduced by hippie Spy, later lives through episodes of hallucination and the usual panoply of Sixties' excess before she loses ``her Light Source for a while,'' starts a small antique store, gets married, and has a son— somewhere along the way finding her Light Source again. Meanwhile, Dana survives an early failed marriage before latching on to a professor (who lives with his mother) and clinging to him for a long time before finally breaking free, at age 40, for greener pastures; the wife is lover to a Manhattan shrink until he dies in the act of lovemaking, leaving behind a drawer full of snapshots of former lovers; and son Denis, the youngest, spends the summer teaching at a New England school, where he falls hard for a teen- aged boy, Cary, before September and heartbreak. Good on texture—from New York shopping trips and on to Berkeley with its Day-Glo, though at times a bit windy or programmatic. Still, Grove ably and movingly chronicles a family's fate.
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