MONOOSOOK VALLEY by Elisabeth Hyde


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A youngish widow, working mother of two, finds love (maybe) and dope (kind of) in 1971 New England: a limp second novel from the author of Her Native Colors (1986). Thirty-five-year-old Shirley Morrison has lived her whole life in the small, conservative, class-conscious New Hampshire town of Monoosook Valley. Daughter of Charley Bates, proprietor of the town's candy store, Shirley was only 17 when she married factory worker Jack Morrison, and only 20 when he died in a hunting accident, leaving her with two kids; so between tending her business (a flourishing hair-styling salon) and raising Tucker and Joanie, Shirley has had no time for romance, save for a brief fling in 1965 with Jack's brother Carl. She has got by, fairly contentedly, for she takes pleasure in her work and family; but then in 1971 her equilibrium is disturbed--first by the death of her father after a bout with cancer, then by visions of her son in Vietnam (Tucker is approaching draft age). The climax comes when her good friend and neighbor Many Schwartz, an aging Jewish hippie at work on his first novel, shows up during an April snowstorm. Shirley smokes her first joint, and they make love, unaware that their kids are in police custody after a drug-related car wreck. Their affair is derailed when Shirley becomes pregnant and has an abortion, much to Marty's chagrin; he flies off to Mexico to brood, leaving their future relationship uncertain. Squeaky-clean Shirley is the kind of dull, one-dimensional lead who could sink a novel single-handedly; but to help her out, the author has denied her an interesting conflict (the abortion) until the novel's final quarter. For all its dutiful references to Vietnam and marijuana, this is a pointless trip down Memory Lane.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1989
Publisher: Delta
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