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 Bloom, a psychoanalyst and the author of the highly-praised story collection Come to Me (1993), offers a first novel that is at once tamer and more troubling than her earlier book, tracking an ordinary young woman's neurotic sexual development and fate. From the age of ten, when we first meet Elizabeth Taube, a schoolgirl growing up in suburban Long Island in the '60s, she's an oddly willing object of adult men's sexual fantasies. In a series of loosely connected stories, she lives these out, first modeling mink coats in her underwear in the darkened shop of the town furrier, who plies her with Belgian chocolates, and later (after her emotionally distant parents announce a divorce) having a prolonged, reluctant affair with adoring high-school English teacher Max. Liz also takes to stealing--especially from a feisty, loving old lady named Mrs. Hill, whom she helps take care of after school through the offices of a black church that she's got involved with. And that's how she becomes the lover of Huddie, a handsome black teenager and local basketball hero whose father sends him to an aunt in Alabama when he discovers that his son is sleeping with a white girl. Liz goes off to college, then returns home to nurse (and sexually taunt) Max during his fatal illness, and then disappears. The narrative picks up years later, with Liz the single mother of a quirky boy who's evidently destined to be gay. That's when Huddie shows up in Liz's life again, a slightly paunchy father of two grown children, still obsessed with Liz. They make a life together. No one gets over Liz--and the novel is troubling because the reader never knows why. The male characters often come alive, but Liz rarely does in this rather inconclusive and puzzling debut. (First printing of 40,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44109-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1996


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