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Irena Lampros--one of four orphaned children taken in and raised to adulthood by an imperious Greek uncle and a warm, long-suffering aunt--sees her siblings die consecutively, quite young, and in short order: the eldest brother is killed in Vietnam; the younger brother, a draft-evader in Canada, is soon after blown-up by a Weatherman-style dynamite cache; and when the uncle refuses to bury this second brother properly, Irena's sister Alex--headstrong, litigious, rebellious, a modernday Antigone-goes on a hunger strike that leads, suicidally, to her own vengeancedeath. This fast-spinning tragedy cycle therefore leaves only Irena, who's still living at home, a ""good glrl""--but one now being buried under survivor-guilt and loneliness. Help comes in the form of a job as an archaeology-assistant at a museum, then an affair with charming but bisexual John, after which-culminatingly-there is a grand, passionate, homosexual love with Maggie Leland, the brilliant archaeologist who is Irena's boss. All these people-this is the book's fatal flaw-are a lot more real to Pass (Zoe's Book) than to us; we receive Irena's soul-spasms as though they came from under a sheet of watered-silk: there's shine and undulation to remark upon, yet no describable form. So, as with Zoe's Book, a novel of some skill but (despite all those misfortunes) little emotional effect.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum