True-life genius-rank astronomer Edwin Hubble, master of the giant Mt. Wilson and Mt. Palomar telescopes, is now curiously forgotten despite his two great empirical discoveries--first, that other galaxies are distant from ours; second, that the universe is expanding at a rate that can be measured by the red shift in starlight. First-novelist Bezzi wants to revive Hubble's name, but his ""fictional biography,"" though intelligent and well researched, remains stunted. Hubble's life is told through a 35-year-old granddaughter's diaristic voyage of self-discovery. Jane, an introspective, divorced copyeditor, aware of her need for an emotional outlet, uses Hubble's wife's diaries as a guide to the astronomer's career--from his Kentucky boyhood, through his first discoveries (which pitted him bitterly against the Harvard University establishment), to his later life as a distinguished L.A. renaissance man and good friend of Aldous Huxley and Anita Loos. The idolization of Hubble renders him a rather remote, dull fictional figure; it is Jane's personal story that provides the novel's life, as her reclusive temperament gets crowded by the affections of a handsome, younger neighbor and by a visit from her disliked father, whom she judges guilty of an academic smarminess that Hubble floated above. Soon father has a stroke that hospitalizes, then kills him; but because Jane lives vicariously in Hubble's world half the time, which makes her susceptible to some pretentiousness in the diary, the emotional impact of events in her real life is muted. An intriguing effort by Bezzi, but one that never quite ignites.
Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1987
Page Count: -
Publisher: Mercury--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)