Cast as the journal of Anne Curtis, a young married writer from the East visiting her sister in Taos, this novel features a...

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SHELTERED LIVES

Cast as the journal of Anne Curtis, a young married writer from the East visiting her sister in Taos, this novel features a succession of very secure, impressive fictional grips--but when it comes to pulling it all down and tying it up, Hazzard just doesn't seem to be genuinely interested enough. Anne, a lover of Jane Austen and daughter of a very earnest minister, is mostly appalled at the emotional messiness of her sister Harriet's life with her painter husband Seth. But Anne's own husband, Nat, a Dickens-scholar-turned-radical, doesn't seem to be rushing out to join her after she buys an adobe house in Taos on a whim; in fact, he doesn't even answer her letters. So Harriet takes the opportunity of Anne's presence (and house) to leave Seth (briefly), and the sisters are housemates for a time. ""When H. and I.were younger we expected life after we left home to be like a Katherine Mansfield story--blue bowls reflected in polished table tops, all color and texture and sensitivity, and no loud voices. Both of us became careful housekeepers because we thought that by arranging our surroundings, we could control them. Untrue."" Harriet returns to the boorish Seth, and Anne heads back east to a Nat-less future, with Hazzard's message explicitly floated over all: that life, unlike fiction, is not neat. That's an unarguable theme, of course, yet here it also serves as a little bit of an alibi for a book that's all cool observation, verging on the comic--a book that never actually commits itself one way or other. There's intelligence and reflection here in abundance, but precious little pulse.

Pub Date: April 25, 1980

ISBN: 059509256X

Page Count: -

Publisher: Madrona Publishers (2116 Western Ave., Seattle, Wash. 98121)

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1980