The author of Long Distance Life (1989), plus other novels dealing with the various odysseys of black women, here centers on a successful actress, a victim of childhood rape, as she struggles to love and endure. Jessie Foster runs away from her Mississippi home and away from the man she's just almost killed--her father. He's repeatedly raped her ever since she was 12, which was also when her ill, silent mother retreated to her bedroom. Activist/writer Lincoln Sturgis picks up Jessie as she stands by the blazing highway, and from there she joins the ``movement people'' at the height of the marches, sit-ins, jailings, and dangerous confrontations of the Civil Rights revolution. Lincoln is a good, kind man, yet when they make love, Jessie is compelled to relive her father's rape in his sick house of secrets. But in spite of the daily peril and a stay in jail, Jessie not only finds her skill and drive as an actress, but she also makes a friend for life--college-educated Macon, married to a professor. Both Jessie and Macon leave the South (and an era). In New York, Jessie changes her name to Pearl Moon and lives with would-be playwright Lincoln. Increasingly, though, there are Pearl's drinking bouts and then another terrible rape, as well as the loss of Lincoln. Macon is also a victim--of callousness and rejection--but she is there for Pearl/Jessie at the long-awaited death of her father. Back in Mississippi, Jessie at last hears the tale of another victim, the one she'd thought had betrayed her--her mother. Now Jessie ``was still lost. But she had found her way home.'' Color this purple with rage at those men who, however driven, rob women of their ability to love and connect, to quash demons within: ``most times [the rape] lay ticking, synchronized and lethal....'' Strong stuff--unsubtle and sharp as an axe blow.