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 In The Weight of Winter (1991) and other Down East village tales, Pelletier's mix of tragedy and comedy somehow refused to settle. Here, however, the story of a grieving young woman, caught within the jiggly orbit of a nutty family, is appealing and good fun. Rosemary O'Neal lived with painter William for eight years in her huge old house in northern Maine. Then William set off for Europe with a plan--which seemed to be accomplished when he committed suicide. Rosemary became an isolate--and would continue as such if her family would allow it. Nice young brother Robbie is in college, but there's Uncle Bishop, a gay, 300-pound gourmet who subscribes to Doll House World; sister Miriam, much married, who's continually engaged in verbal warfare with Bishop; Mother, ``that sad, malfunctioning universe,'' who demands to know when Father (who's been dead for years) is coming; and dear, dying Aunt Rachel, who cares for Mother. Rosemary, according to her college friend Lizzie--who's on her way to visit--is the ``normal'' one in the Munster family. But, alas, like Lourdes, Rosemary's house attracts the ``emotionally handicapped'': friend Lizzie, her estranged husband, and new lover; Uncle Bishop, depressed after his lover goes back to his wife and after a feud with a bird-loving neighbor; and Miriam, in a marital row. When everyone moves in, Rosemary moves to a tent and begins her death watch. She strains after her childhood past (if she can let Father go, William will be next), combs the skies for star-wisdom and even sees a ``birdman'' aviator (earthbound, he's a lemon). Meanwhile, the deaths of animals, including her beloved cat, tell her more about ``the ultimate blind date.'' She'll be popping relatives with a BB gun before--renewed- -she rejoins the family circle. A congenially bittersweet story, with often hilarious witchy dialogue: Pelletier's best.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-59311-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993


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