The semi-liberated woman meets her alluring nemesis, the Greek-American macho ethic--in an extended, enervating sexual...

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ACTS OF LOVE

The semi-liberated woman meets her alluring nemesis, the Greek-American macho ethic--in an extended, enervating sexual melodrama that nevertheless offers scene after scene of considerable naturalistic power. Spoiled, promiscuous rich-girl Ethel Laffey of Tucson has decided to forget Aaron, her Israeli ex-lover, and Ernie, her bohemian lover, and her possessive surgeon father too--by settling down with Teddy Avaliotis, a gently handsome, apparently forceful Navy man stationed in San Diego. But along with Teddy comes Teddy's very Greek, really forceful father Costa, ex-sponge diver, owner of Tampa's ""3 Bees"" (""Bait, Boats, Beer""), and firm believer in a wife who arrives as a virgin, stays home, and has babies. When smoothly arrogant Dr. Laffey and coarsely arrogant Costa clash hopelessly over wedding plans, Ethel finds herself siding with Costa; and, after she and Teddy torture each other with married life for a few weeks (Ethel enlists in the Navy to be both close and independent), Ethel finds herself AWOL on a plane to Tampa, seeking out Costa's strange power and resolving to give Costa what he wants most--a grandchild--whether the father is Teddy or one of the many lovers she purposefully gathers: a Mexico City executive, a Puerto Rican laborer, and an ugly-sexy Greek marina-owner--all macho, and all just substitutes perhaps for Costa himself, with whom Ethel finally merges. Sexual strength, however, also brings sexual jealousy, and Ethel, who has meanwhile awakened both herself and Costa's timid wife to the joys of economic independence, is dead at book's end. A casualty of the half-baked sexual revolution, the age-old battle of the sexes, or her own hang-ups? Kazan fudges this vital point, and the book's second half suffers badly from contrived thematic dramatics. But, if profundity and eloquence escape him, Kazan has crafted dozens of rasping dialogues--the way people really talk, argue, make up, lash out, give up--and has spliced them with a leanly readable narrative that may miss what people feel but renders what people show with admirable vigor.

Pub Date: July 10, 1978

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1978