TOWARD THE END by Elizabeth Savage
Kirkus Star


Email this review


No one had ever wintered at Crow Point,"" a summer colony onan island off the coast of Maine; but in this witty and shimmering scan of fragile human vagaries on a sinister and savage coast, a cocksure handful give winter at Crow Point a try. Jessie Thorne, who has summered at Crow Point since childhood, arrives after being disillusioned with her marriage to Howard (who urged her to ""Make a life of your own"" but seems to have rejected her): Tome Elder, a painter of undetermined talent married to stockbroker Brigid (who enjoys the comforts of Boston and sometime sex with Jessie's Howard), is looking forward to a winter of isolated creativity. Angus Allister, a best-selling author from Montana, is rummaging within for his next book. Edgar Pedersen, a retired teacher devoted to gentle wife Irma, is about to hole-in in their gleaming new cliffside home. And observing it all from town are Jessie's friends--90year-old Charley Pratt and his wife, who think Jessie's living way out there in winter is crazy. Remarkably, the Crow Point outsiders do fairly well at first, in spite of some calamitous clusterings: Howard shows up, to Jessie's disgust--she's been having a peaceful and agreeable affair with Angus; Brigid drops in on Tom and both wish she were back in Boston; unwise party-giving, with disastrous mixes of guests and liquor, sharpens some piques; and there are grim tilts with transport as cars grind and slide in and out of town. Then. . . the first mighty storm arrives, and apprehensive Brigid detects in the ""battering and screaming"" the punitive voice which judges: ""you have not done well."" Jessie misses the first storm (she drives Charley to the inland hospital--to die, is turns out), but she joyously awaits the second one in her house with nervous suitors Howard and Angus--both of whom she will reject to remain in her ""ruined Eden"" during the final crumbling, ripping devastation. All the others flee, Jessie stays on alone--a haunting finale to a grandly jeweled morality play in a truly majestic landscape.

Pub Date: June 2nd, 1980
Publisher: Little, Brown