OCTOBER BLOOD by Francine du Plessix Gray
Kirkus Star


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Gray's previous novel--World Without End (1981)--featured a trio of lifelong friends going into middle-age mutually supporting each other's high intelligence, discretion, and taste. This new novel consists of the story of an extended family--four people, two of whom are married to each other, another who's lover to the wife, who in turn is the daughter of the eldest woman of the bunch--who mutually support each other's high intelligence, discretion, and taste. However, where the preceding book had an ambient richness both to the feeling and the language, the latter is especially unimpressive in this way (""Her hand in his, his child, perhaps his only eternity--eyes filled with such hope and fervor, children's confidence preserved through millenia of our crimes--repeated treason of their dreams, nascent flowers fucked over. . .""The book intends to satirize fashion, both in clothes and food. Paula Fitzsimmons is the daughter of Nada, legendary editor of Best Magazine, the Vogue-like arbiter of world taste. Paula grows up surrounded by such people as Dior, Chanel, Elsa Maxwell, Dali, Balenciaga--and only mental illness provides her with an escape from such a hothouse childhood. But, stabilizing, she eventually meets Julian Symonds, an Episcopal seminarian. They marry and have a daughter. Joining their household is also Paula's once-lover, Nicholas, the chef at a chic New York restaurant who himself is the son of Best's under-editor, the outrageous Babs. And old Nada, retired from the fashion wars, is with them as well. All together they form a parenting committee to see to the upbringing of Paula and Julian's coltish daughter Georgia. Though Babs and her fashion pronunciamentos are funny, any other stab at making light of the fashion milieu is far less successful. The mots are unjust; the couture is less tweaked than raided for a stock of names that everyone in this book drops with the finesse of a crop-duster. Only for the insatiably trendy reader able to convince him or herself that he or she is really something more than just curious. No one else will likely put up with the goopy prose and precious self-congratulation that make up the main chance here.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Simon & Schuster