Email this review


Miss Pargeter was bad enough--she was only senile."" So says Marianne, 16, when she learns that her husband-deserted mum has once again arranged for them to have a lodger in their lower-middle-class English home; this time it's a blind Jewish music teacher, and Marianne's prepared for all sorts of inconvenience. In fact, however, the lodger turns out to be 24, good-looking, and sweet. So quite soon, after Marianne helps him to and from his bus, he's ""already ceasing to be 'a blind man' and becoming simply Mr. Shonfeld, who happened not to be able to see."" Mr. Shonfeld tries at first not to ask for help except when absolutely necessary. Then, however, Marianne volunteers to teach him how to cook; Mr. Shonfeld--now ""Abe""--repays her with piano lessons, then singing lessons, bringing out a decent alto voice. Marianne, hitherto a loner while attending a ""snob school"" instead of the local one, starts going to parties with Abe, joining his Thursday night vocal group. But when a first kiss is followed up by a drift towards (if never into) physical intimacy, Marianne's mother gently, firmly throws Abe out. Marianne responds with fury and frustration, staging a sort of running-away-from-home after fights with both mum and the newly situated Abe. (He's intent on resisting the sexual temptation, concerned with the difference in their ages.) And only after Marianne's tantrum leads to Abe's minor injury--he goes after her, failing into a quarry--do things settle down: Marianne sees her mother's point; but, in an open-ended fadeout, the almost-sweethearts will go on seeing each other, at least for Thursday vocalizing. Predictable, not very subtle or deep, with Abe rather too-good-to-be-true--but the British backgrounds are well-textured; the dialogue is fairly bright (Marianne's mum is capable of refreshing earthiness); and the matter-of-fact details of Abe's lifestyle help to tone down a tendency toward sappiness.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1983
Publisher: Delacorte