THE QUESTION OF GREGORY by Elizabeth Janeway
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This third novel by Elizabeth Janeway fulfills the promise of her first book, The Walsh Girls, in being an exploration into the shadowy reaches of the not-quite-normal mind. This is a study of snapped tensions, as John Gregory and his wife, Ellen, explode into an open break when Roosevelt's death snaps the thin controls of apparent acceptance of their son's death in Germany. Ellen lashes out at her husband, in violent exposure of the concealed hostilities; John, escaping first into drunkenness, then into temporary semi-aphasia, disappears from Washington -- and is lost to his world. The story then follows first one thread- then another- as John gropes for a new identity, encounters crookedness and deceit in Key West, finds compassionate friendship in Vermont, returns to Washington and the unsuspected love of Rose, who had been his secretary, and who gives him back a sense of his own identity and responsibilities. Finally, in Detroit, he finds himself on the giving rather than the receiving end- and from there returns to Ellen, only to find that reunion is a hopeless dream...Ellen's emotional and mental saga holds more of bitterness and hopeless frustration, as she returns to the wasteland of an overprotected girlhood home, and finds her island of serenity in the belief that her son still lives- in her deliberate transfer to the missing John the blame and the fear that involves. But with John's reappearance even that security is lost. Absorbing reading, this ends on a note of hopeless disunity, with only one's sense that John Gregory has newly established his own identity as something to give him another chance. There are phases of the story that seem unreal; could a man prominent in Washington political circles be allowed to vanish, unsought? But almost it is a very good novel.

Publisher: Doubleday