Mary Faith Rapple--tough-fibered unmarried mother of Due East (1986), now 19 and saddled with her exhausting, hellion son...



Mary Faith Rapple--tough-fibered unmarried mother of Due East (1986), now 19 and saddled with her exhausting, hellion son Jesse, age four--still hasn't managed to get out of town. Here, she finds herself one of three women in Due East, S.C., whose men are slipping away. Throughout the frantic-to-bizarre efforts of the women to achieve what the satiric title implies, their men soldier myopically on through the joyless chores of middle-age romance. Wives, lovers, husbands, and two failed seekers after spiritual fulfillment--all are restless, thorny beings, bristling with rage and swathed in guilt, and through them Sayers evolves wise insinuations concerning those attending dark churches and dead hearths, awaiting the spark of life. Narrated by various principals, events are introduced by an elderly chorus of women in the Altar Guild of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the church of Fr. Berkeley. In his ""confession,"" the aged, alcoholic priest, withered to bitterness, cries out against unmerciful women who ""scrub the Church clean of men."" The Altar Guild discusses the scandalous desertion of Becky Perdue, mother of four, by her realtor husband Jack, who's fallen for a buxom office mate. Then there's Stephen Dugan, teacher/journalist, who's infatuated with Mary Faith (or is it only obligation he feels?) since her pregnancy, and who is bound to leave Marygail, his partner in a marriage bereft of mutual need. The three women begin maneuvers to reignite fires, to shore up forgotten and mouldering foundations. Only Mary Faith's need of Stephen is unmuddied by fuzzy notions: he's her ticket out of town. Becky, hitting the bottle (and various objects on the highway), yearns to feel again the ""revulsion"" she's felt toward Jack for 20 years; Marygail collapses in a ""loony loneliness."" And through an uncurtained window all the women witness and are disturbed by the s-m erotic adventures of once-priesthood-headed Tim Rooney. Tim will confess his ""black soul,"" but passion infiltrates the souls of women on the brink. At the close, the turmoil recedes, leaving a loveless landscape rearranged--but Mary Faith is back home again, ""absolutely blank and absolutely hopeless."" But who knows? In her second novel, Sayers fulfills the considerable promise of Due East.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1988


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988