A PRIVATE LIFE by Cynthia Propper Seton
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Seton (A Fine Romance, A Glorious Third) continues to conduct her highly musical morality-plays from a faintly patrician podium in fringe academia; and again there are those attractive Seton women, through whose mild adventures Seton ticks off trendy fashions in Selfhood-Seeking and pseudo-Culture. Fanny Foote, 26 and tentative, fears above all the fragmented life: she wishes she had a vocation, which her lowly clerical job at First magazine (a monthly ""which combined an interest in feminism with money"") certainly does not point toward. But when editor Candace realizes that Fanny is the adoring niece of notorious Provencal language-scholar Carrie Foote--the co-creator with ex-playgirl ""Lu"" of a famed scholars' haven in France--Fanny is sent, pockets jingling, to plumb for some intimate, supposedly lesbian revelations: ""a really viable homosexual model there. . . authentic feminists."" True, Fanny has doubts about completing this assignment: leaving boyfriend TX, whose ultimate aim in life is to ""hang loose,"" is no problem; but her father Marcus, an ex-Congressman, has old, mixed feelings about Carrie. So it's only after much stewing that Fanny finally arrives in France: there's an ecstatic reunion with Carrie in ""The Printing House,"" a 16th-century enchantment of pink brick, while Fanny also meets Lu: aging, arthritic, hard-workingly unconventional. Among the scholars is erudite, relentlessly talkative Titus Sidney, a pessimist about attracting women. And Fanny is soon reveling in French food, flattering company, and glittering insights, eventually hearing the tale of Carrie's decidedly heterosexual forbidden lover--with whom Carrie will now at last be joined. . . while Fanny and Titus, in love, plan to teach at a ""revolutionary"" school allowing no jeans and no Early Film. A fine-grained, witty tribute to the committed, cultured, private life--a prerequisite to a responsible public one--with sly satire reminiscent of Mrs. Bridge: social comedy with a spine.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Norton