ANNA DELANEY'S CHILD by John Thorndike


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Thorndike's first novel--the story of a woman who puts her life back together after the death of her young son--is earnest, compassionate, and more than a trifle too sincere. When Anna Delaney's marriage breaks up and life in Eugene, Oregon (where she works as a grower in a greenhouse), reaches a low ebb, she and her eight-year-old son Kevin move to a farm near the little town of Fell River, Ohio. One freezing spring day, as Anna is driving Kevin to tennis lessons, the car skids off the road and Kevin is killed after being thrown through the window. Anna is by turns stoic, frantic, wildly bereft, crazy drunk--she eventually tears Kevin's entire room apart, piece by piece, and burns it. Also living in Fell River is her father, Alex, a vocational counselor who, in mourning for his wife, ends up falling in love with Susan Rupert, a young paraplegic (she's fallen off a cliff in New Mexico). Together they do the best they can for Anna's grief, but she starts to come out of her shell only when she meets Jay Corman, a local dance, teacher and choreographer who pursues her even when she tries to put him off. She becomes pregnant via a faulty diaphram but has an abortion because she's not ready for another child yet; in the meantime, her ex-husband, Paul Dunham, has been appearing in town. Paul is an ex-""genius"" full of frantic 60's energy that has been channeled into amphetamines, madness, and marginal living. Unable to let Anna go, he ""kidnaps"" her (simply starts driving and refuses to let her out of the car), but she easily escapes in Cincinnati and heads for a reunion with the now much-appreciated Jay. Unfortunately, because everyone's heart is in an easily locatable place, and all the right ""feelings"" are expressed, Anna Delaney's Child comes across at times like a self-serious made-for-television movie about an Important Topic. Still, Thorndike is a lyrical writer, and a not-bad storyteller.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1986
Publisher: Macmillan