by Frederick Buechner ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 1998
A wonderfully humane and satisfying meditative romance from the Presbyterian minister and veteran author (On the Road With the Archangel, 1997, etc.). The major actions here occur on and around Plantation Island, site of an upper-class Florida resort ""ruled"" by wealthy spinster Violet Sickert. To the island has come Kenzie Maxwell, a thrice-married writer in ""exile"" following his ""scandalous"" fathering of an illegitimate child, to join his prosperous new wife Willow, her underachieving, vaguely religious 40-year-old son Averill, and Willow's live-in caretaker, the brutish Calvert Sykes (who believes he is Violet's illegitimate son). As preparations for Kenzie's 70th birthday party are shadowed by the imminent appearance of the disapproving older brother (Dalton) from whom he has long been estranged, and as a storm closes in on the island, the pattern that underlies this altogether fetching tale gradually becomes clear: Kenzie is the compromised wizard Prospero; his daughter ""Bree"" (Gabrielle) is Miranda; Averill, the sprite Ariel; Calvert, the ""monster"" Caliban; and so on. It's a fascinating set of variations on the Shakespearean source, expressed in spare, simple declarative sentences that propel the story forward with commendable swiftness. Buechner moves skillfully among the viewpoints of several major characters--the reader is surprised by the generous shift of focus from nominal protagonist Kenzie so as to include Calvert's determination to be respected and Violet Sickert's desperate wish to be, at last, both loving and loved. All concludes with a series of funny and touching direct allusions to The Tempest (the drunken Trinculo's worship of Caliban, for instance, takes the form of a naive Bishop mistaking Calvert for a country-western singer) and a lyrical valediction declaring Kenzie's sincere affection for his family, their loved ones, and others everywhere who are ""endlessly trying, like him, to find whence they really belonged."" A marvelous adaptation of Shakespeare--one of the best ever.
Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998
Page Count: 208
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998
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