DIVINING ROD by Michael Knight


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A moody and often moving story of adultery and other forms of compromised love, by the author of the story collection Dogfight (p. 1142). The opening action—63-year-old Sam Holladay’s apparently inexplicable murder of his young neighbor Simon Bell—is prelude to a deftly woven tapestry of extended flashbacks describing the lives of both men, as well as that of Sam’s much younger wife Delia, fleshed out by detailed glimpses of other citizens of their sleepy hometown of Sherwood, Alabama. Delia is an impulsive beauty whose genuine love for the quiet Sam (a contemplative teacher of history) can—t keep her from tumbling into a gratifying affair with young attorney Simon, a loner confused and fascinated by memories of his late mother, who was herself a dazzling beauty, and of an unfaithful wife. Simon is an impetuous and grateful lover, whose fixation on Delia is expressed in charming little shaggy-dog—like verbal twists and grace notes (her perfume afflicts him with —a distinct, dreamy sensation of lingering movement, as if my blood had changed directions on me”). Their furtive meetings, though highly charged sexually, seem almost innocent, so skillfully does Knight draw us into seeing things through their eyes. Nor do we withhold sympathy from the long-suffering Sam, a thoroughly decent man who had, before Delia, essentially resigned himself to never being loved. And Knight “opens up” the novel persuasively, training his focus at carefully chosen intervals on Simon’s middle-aged neighbor Bob Robinson, Bob’s young daughter Maddie (a Delia in the making), and especially on “crazy” Betty Fowler, a widow who prowls the local golf course with a makeshift divining rod seeking the gold she’s sure her late husband buried there—and, as we later learn, much more than that. An impressive and touching anatomy of the varieties, pleasures, and consequences of giving all for love—the work of a fine new writer who already looks like one of the really good ones.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-94379-X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1998


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