THE SIGN OF JONAH by Nancy Hale

THE SIGN OF JONAH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A shan of brilliant superficiality may trick many readers into thinking this new novel by the author of The Women a more penetrating study of the period between the wars than it seems to this reader. Against a panorama of the South, viewed through Jaundiced eyes -- New York, at a level of cocktail parties, first nights, balls and social glamour a luxury ya on a Caribbean cruise -- Reno, unreal and unhappy Mecca of the disillusioned, is told the story of the Crocker-Buswells, and their erratic, comet-like careers. Corcker, alcoholic and typed to the idea of flaming youth in the '20's, seeks out relatives of the dead father she worships, and finds them living in the South, pariahs because of the dominant ideals of the grandfather, Enoch Crocker, still aiming for the Reconstruction goal of regeneration. She provides an erratic impetus which results in the rebellion of Hope, coldly passionate beauty, who carries with her the unawakened and naive older sister, the artistic and bitter younger brother, and the mother, Junoesque and classic type. It is Hope who becomes the aggressive, dominating figure, with her grandfather's death. Her ruthless ambitions, her disdain for truth if it interferes with her desires, ultimately bring agony of spirit to Felicity, to Edward, to all who touch the periphery of her own career. But in the end, she overreaches herself, and her second husband, a Southern politician in the Talmadge tradition, pays her off in her own coin. Few readers will feel any sympathy for any of the characters,- unless perhaps for the small boy, victim and lay figure. Emotionally, the story and the characterizations seem unreal and derivative. The trappings of the novel are tinsel. The impact is bogus. For me, the story left me unmoved, ave a sense of active distaste. Definitely not for conservatives.

Publisher: Scribner