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People have private places in their minds. . . That doesn't mean they're crazy."" Less inventively eloquent with myth and landscape than Hoffman's best novels, this tale of tempests on the margin of consciousness does again feature mythic appearances (birds, red roses in barren soil, tiny horses), heavy weather, and a demon lover. With earthquake weather in southern California, with coyotes drowning in swimming pools ""edged with blue Italian tile,"" Rae Perry wonders why seven years ago she ran away from Boston with Jessup, a 30-year-old studio gofer who was always on the point of abandoning her. After all, Rae's mother Carolyn--who ""betrayed"" Rae by giving up her soul to a punishing husband--had warned her daughter about ""dangerous men."" Nonetheless, Rae had stolen Carolyn's money--to pay for her westward flight with demon-lover Jessup, on the open road toward ""unlimited options."" Now, however, Rae has been dumped by Jessup (who has taken her money). And she feels drawn instead to 40-ish tea-leaf reader Lila, whose own past includes savage loss and pain, the figure of an old woman in black disappearing into cold Manhattan tenements, a fiery ordeal, and the birth of a lost, adopted daughter. But Lila has no time for Rae: she is determined to leave on a doomed journey to find her long-lost daughter--while her marriage to good, gentle Richard turns sour and silent. Meanwhile, Rae no longer yearns for Jessup--who returns to her from the desert, from vanished dreams. So both women finally reach a greater acceptance of their losses, knowing that there are seasons for coming together. . . and for letting go. Hoffman, as always, shows a talent here for psychic journeys into the past and for a certain portentous tension. But Jessup lacks the fire of her best demon-lovers (e.g., Silver in White Horses), and the women this time--blurry, murmurous--suggest lesser Joyce Carol Oates rather than prime Alice Hoffman.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1985
ISBN: 0425168700
Publisher: Putnam