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AQUAMARINE by Carol Anshaw


by Carol Anshaw

Pub Date: Feb. 13th, 1992
ISBN: 0-395-58562-7
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

 For those with a yen for a choose-your-own-adventure novel, Village Voice Literary Supplement contributor Anshaw (author, as Carol White, of They Do It All With Mirrors, 1978) establishes the character of a young Olympic swimmer and then offers three separate versions of her destiny--all of them equally depressing. It was a pivotal moment--the instant before Jesse Austin leapt into the pool at the Mexico City Olympic Games when she looked over at her competitor and lover, Marty Finch, and knew the other girl was going to win the meet. After that moment, and the ones that immediately follow in which Marty is awarded the event's gold medal and Jesse the silver, Jesse's future seems almost irrelevant. Anshaw echoes her character's fundamental indifference by presenting three possible futures in which Jesse's circumstances change--though her deepest relationships (with her withholding mother, with her beloved, sharp-witted godmother, and with various men) remain roughly the same. Whether Jesse falls into the safety of marriage to a hometown man, flees to N.Y.C. to teach literature and set up housekeeping with a female actress, or operates a swimming academy in Florida while raising two children on her own, her thoughts remain on that shining moment in her past--and her obsession with knowing whether Marty Finch, her first love, coldheartedly seduced her to win the gold prevents her from moving on. Anshaw's talent for evoking realistic female relationships and sharp, memorable dialogue is eclipsed by the novel's overcalculated structure, which soon wears thin. Still, the results are intriguing--an imaginative, original work.