SLANTING LIGHT by Gerda Charles


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Miss Charles' sensitive, precariously oblique novel, is written as a series of letters from Ruth Holland to her estranged husband who has begged Ruth to ""tell all"". The thirty-nine-year-old woman is fresh from a destructive affair and takes a position with the family of an American dramatist -- Bernard Zold -- to cook and keep house for them during their stay in England. Very soon Bernard becomes the central concern in Ruth's correspondence. A prodigiously gifted artist, a Jew, a stocky, somewhat gauche giant of a man, he has made of endurance a way of life. He endures distrust, envy, a mother whom he cannot please, a dull wife, a neurotic un-akin daughter, a boorish brother. Finally and most cruelly, he endures the calumny of a group of ""friends"", critics and fellow playwrights, infuriated by his subtlety of vision, his insistent honesty, his most vulnerable magnanimity. Bernard tells Ruth afterwards: ""I am not a fool and not a Saint. I'm the mid-twentieth century substitute: the worrier, the conscience man, the anxiety bearer."" Gerda Charles, the conscience woman, has drawn her hero's anxieties beautifully. Unfortunately, her own slanting light leaves too many areas unillumined for this to be a completely satisfying novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 21st, 1963
Publisher: Knopf