DEPARTURES by Jane Bernstein


Email this review


A deeply interior, attenuated rummage into the muddy consciousness of young grad student Lydia--who, in seeking love, comes close to emptying herself of the capacity to love. Living with film technician Kramer in New York, Lydia is haunted by departures--the death of her father, her grandfather, and then, abruptly, the departure of Kramer. She drifts, takes up with the cloddish super. She goes home to L.A., to recently-remarried mother Rose, and searches for her real father (the ""ultimate Daddy"") while crawling around on the floor and poking through drawers. No luck--so loveless Lydia heads to the London home of sister Jill, whose young son bears a physical deformity that mirrors Lydia's atrophied affections. And, although Jill and husband Peter would obviously like her to leave, Lydia clings to ""family"" like a leech, until she at last takes a tacky flat, a factory job, and, slowly gaining confidence and insight, carefully begins a gentle, brief affair with a student. Then, finally, back in New York, Lydia hears from lover Kramer; and, this time playing from strength while accepting all of love's ""uncertainties,"" she'll try loving again. Bernstein does manage to sustain a secure, if brittle, tone throughout Lydia's unhinged thrashings; and there are certainly glimmers of better books ahead. But, wading through the heaps of incidental behavioral flotsam here, most readers will find Lydia's tremulous search for love to be all too much about all too little.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1979
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston