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 A love story that's simply, grandly, satisfying. But this is also a complex, multilayered, love story, which is to say it's vintage Wesley (A Sensible Life, 1990, etc.), in which two star-crossed Londoners eventually surface as if newborn from the world's stale hatreds and comic banalities. Again, the circumstantial clutter is touched by the light breeze of enchantment: A faithful dog (a Wesley staple) appears from nowhere; a garden blooms in stony soil. But the book begins with a sheep- -lying ``on its back in the center of the field with its legs in the air''--and with Julia Piper, fresh from the funeral of her husband and little boy, stopping a commuter train and leaping to the field to perform a blindly random act of rescue. From the train, Sylvester Wykes watches in puzzlement while poisonous fellow passenger Benson, ex-PI and bird-watcher, plans to follow Julia just for fun. Back in her apartment, Julia, torn by grief, scours away reminders of a hated husband and a beloved child before reviving enough to return to work cleaning apartments. Meanwhile Sylvester, who'd watched from a distance while his divorcing wife removed his worldly goods, hires a cleaning lady, sight unseen. It's Julia, of course, now accompanied by an oddly persistent mutt she'll later name Joyful. Sylvester leaves for the US on business, where he encounters a Goliath of racial sentiments (a societal blister also met in England; one of Julia's neighbors beeps racist inanities at intervals). Sylvester is also offered sex, but one whiff of his ex-wife's perfume on the bimbette and he's off for home--where Julia and Joyful wait. Healing begins, separately and then together, as finally, against the raucous hilarity of a Christmas party in Julia's apartment house (where Benson lies in wait), lives are joined, Joyful in attendance. Afloat on the cresting awfulness (and pathos) of human muddles, love--as Wesley finds it--is all the more luminous.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-670-85649-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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