WOMEN OF GRANITE by Dana Andrew Jennings


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Yankee gothic meets Thelma and Louise as Jennings (Mosquito Games, 1989) attempts to give undeserved significance to the Page women of Granite, New Hampshire. The Page family, headed by matriarch Nanna Page, ""who'd never dared to lay claim to infallibility, but who'd considered the possibilities,"" has eked out a marginal existence in run-down shacks in Page Village on a hillside above the town. Page men have been congenitally weak, always secondary to their women, who've never been timid about teaching them a lesson--even if it involves locking a favorite son in a shed and setting it on fire, a scene that Sarah, the protagonist, witnessed as a child when Grandmother Nanna found out that son Billy had raped his niece. Sarah, who also saw the rape, had been abandoned by their mother, Ella, a victim of ""Nanna's claws,"" who'd first tried to sell her. She's now a young grandmother whose grief has turned inward. When son Wayne and his wife Charlotte sell their baby, Sarah walks out--literally--and heads for strong daughter Hannah, who as a child had helped Sarah through her depression by staying home from school to prevent her mother from committing suicide. Alternating with flashbacks to the past, Sarah, now pregnant, helps Hannah with her own breakdown, then returns home to find Charlotte living with her husband Russ, and Wayne dumping toxic chemicals in the woods. Determined to stop him, she takes drastic action. Like grandmother Nanna, ""she sniffed his weakness and went for the throat. She wanted him, for once, to be held accountable, to face up to what he'd done."" After Wayne's dealt with, Sarah contentedly raises her baby and savors ""whatever small truths may catch in her modest nets."" Pretentious writing and gratuitous exploitation of fashionable themes, with stock characters in an equally worked-over setting. Still, faint glimmers of promise.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1992
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich