A MEANS OF GRACE by Edith Pargeter


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Another worthwhile revival (The Heaven Tree Trilogy, 1993) of an out-of-print Pargeter novel (a.k.a. mystery writer Ellis Peters) appearing here for the first time. Published in 1956 in England, this is a lowering, often eloquent, romantically heroic tale of lovers caught in the icy constrictions of the Cold War. Concert soprano Emmy Marryat, despite warnings, books a brief tour in a Baltic country (unnamed) that's in the turbulent process of coalescing as a stable Communist state. Emmy has yearned to see her dear friends the Ivanescus, whom she first met during the war: the nurturing mother and modest father (owner of a small factory); beautiful Wanda, enthusiastic supporter of the new State (including its policy of nationalizing factories like her father's); Milo, a buoyant, cheerful student; and Lubov, grave and tender, a university teacher with whom Emmy will find a lasting love. The country's changes accelerate, but in the aftermath of war there's still a ""chilling breath of tragedy unredeemed, uncompensated. . . blowing across the suave modern highway."" Meanwhile, Milo's close friend Yuri, frantic with restrictions, successfully escapes to the West, and Emmy--though she, like the Ivanescus, disapproves of his flight--nevertheless answers his pathetic, devastated need. Emmy will not join the anti-Communist herd at home, however, and she offers Yuri compassion rather than love. Yuri takes his revenge--and Lubov faces prison. Together (Emmy visits the country once more), the lovers deliberate as they struggle for wholeness in a ""mutilated world."" Through them the author examines the claims of nationalism, as opposed to nationality, and offers a plea to look beyond governments to the needs and ways that unite us all. The verbiage sinks into the ponderous now and then, and characters occasionally become mouthpieces, but, still, there's much here that's touching and memorable.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0753101041
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Headline--dist. by Trafalgar