Shortly after being informed that her daughter, ""Alexandra...In Spoken French has attempted to engage Miss Du Cane in...

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MRS. BRATBE'S AUGUST PICNIC

Shortly after being informed that her daughter, ""Alexandra...In Spoken French has attempted to engage Miss Du Cane in advanced conversation of a dubious kind,"" Mrs. Bratbe is again called by the school to account for Alexandra's conduct with a pyre of pornography. Mrs. Bratbe, an elegant English version of the executive bitch as Success Goddess, packs Alexandra across the Channel to a French family, hoping to be finished with her, to finish her. But Alexandra has just started the final stage of her odyssey of growing up, physically and emotionally. The descriptive terms of Greek myth come to mind in discussing this plot, and these characters, because Alexandra's struggle with her mother has that sort of rushing inevitability and Alexandra is intent on fouling her nest with a mythic abandon. Before the long novel is over, she has ruptured the high gloss, plastic perfection of her mother's life by establishing a club where naked young blue stockings read the great philosophers aloud. Further, her lover is Doddley, once Mrs. Bratbe's. He's old enough to be her father. He even might be ....... It's a sophisticated, almost dilettante, allegory set in the 1950's. The author employs a sort of ""stop camera"" technique that imposes on reader patience. The large cast of diverse characters are brought together in big groups and then the action is slowed so that the smallest of small talk, the slightest of gestures and the faintest of inner reactions can reveal them. Freighted with fate, touched with poetry, relieved by sustaining humor, this is an interesting first import for a special audience.

Pub Date: March 16, 1966

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1966