ELIZABETH APPLETON by John O'Hara

ELIZABETH APPLETON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Again the master of the extramarital, exploits contemporary (or nearly) marriage modes and methods in this oddly nostalgic tale of lovely Elizabeth Appleton, her husband and her lover. Mother of two and wife of a history teacher (later Dean of a small ivy college in Pennsylvania) Elizabeth lets slip the bonds of matrimony with ease. Although perfectly content to have married slightly below her name and wealth, Elizabeth senses after a decade of marriage that no further excitement or novelty is apt to bloom. She turns to Porter Ditson (somewhat reminding her of "the boys at home") whose anachronistic, unemployed existence is a manifestation of his sole ambition- "to reach seventy-five". Their affair is passionate, satisfying, final. Elizabeth refuses to marry him, however, and after the war and resultant unmoorings, it is ended. Realizing that the best of two worlds cannot be joined, and also responding to John's needs (John's return home after the war; his plans for advancement in position), Elizabeth leaves Porter with the remnants of her youth and returns resolutely to the apparently unsuspecting John. "I chose to stay married to John... He has always come back to our marriage if not to me...We're caught, trapped by something that happens to our glands." The cleft between careful and careless love remains as the story winds up in the present. For all the well-dressed cast and the self-possessed style, this is another yarn of youth remembered and steamers leaving for Cathay. Another saleable O'Hara.
Pub Date: June 4th, 1963
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1963




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