GARDENS by Holly Prado

GARDENS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this sustained if wispy first novel, three generations of women muddle in life-crisis indecisions and almost simultaneously, yet separately, shape up for new beginnings--all in Prado's exotic Los Angeles, a place of ""many gods"" where ""anything can happen."" Forty-five-year-old artist Kate, married to would-be artist Alec, clings to the security of her home, dreading the departure of daughter Sheila, who's anxious to be on her way--to marriage? Graduate school? Kate had weathered depression, a love affair and a period when the white windows she painted hinted a way out (suicide?) but gave no answers. Now she's waiting for the female figure in her current work to form and identify herself. Meanwhile, Sheila contemplates a future of security-plus with marriage to nice Mac. But what of Ralph, the Spanish/Indian musician? Ralph and Sheila seem to have molded each other into a mythic ideal. As for the trim widow, grandmother Audrey, who had brought the child Kate from Michigan in 1947 after the death of her own husband--she's just retired from 33 triumphant years with a sportswear firm. Now what? Well, Alec is discovering he can't stand alone, easel-wise, and his and Kate's marriage sours. Sheila and Ralph try for a fabulous flight and miss, and Audrey, man-less, has the blues. Then one night their home is invaded by a trio of vicious kids, ransacked and violated; and Kate realizes that ""everything that's happened. . .is happening to kill the past. None of them will ever feel the same about each other again."" After Kate and Sheila solemnly prepare a magic spell for ""leaving home,"" Sheila is off alone to Write. Alee vows a new start, Audrey finds a beau, and Kate's woman-in-the-painting emerges with a message. Prado's high-colored montage of a garden L.A. (complete with serpents) is all of a piece, but the characters in their overblown states-of-being seem about as substantial as a drift of jacaranda blossoms.

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1985
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich