PASSAGE OF TIME by Gillian Martin
Kirkus Star


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I feel a bit lost, like being on a train and not sure it's the right one, so I have to sit on the edge of the seat and watch the names of the stations."" So says Ruth, near the close of weeks of blazing confusion and frustrated attempts at orderly self-analysis--all begun when Barry, husband and father of their two young daughters, leaves their London home to board temporarily with plump Charles and thin Trudy. Ruth, angry and weepy and snide in turn, treads water: she toys with thoughts of magic moments with Charles (who seems to admire at least her figure); she teases apart a tangled past, fantasizes on her own death (with Barry ""falling across the bed in an agony of remorse""), and remembers the certainty she had as a child with the steel-spined woman who raised her, unshakably knowledgeable Aunt Sarah. So, with the girls, Ruth is off to her Welsh hometown. But Aunt Sarah, handmaiden to the Absolute, passes on the hitherto-hidden truth about Ruth's origins, and Ruth's tentative identity search is again blown apart. After a feverish trip back to London, a wild, drunken yet platonic night with good Charles, and gear-grinding collisions with Barry, Ruth sorts it all out: the glories and defeats of Aunt Sarah's way; how to make do with what you have; and as for ""finding oneself. . . . It's not Hunt the Thimble I'm engaged in. . . as if it were a line to cross. . . instead of a continually moving horizon."" Unlike most divorce/separation odysseys, no chunks of raw whine or vinegary asides; these are the delightful peregrinations of a bright and loving woman, and--as with the heroine of Martin's The Goat, The Wolf, and The Crab--you care very much where she's headed at any given moment.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Scribners