OFFSEASON by Naomi Holoch


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 A first novel from the editor of the Women on Women series: an earnest tale of doomed lesbian love in a wonderfully rendered out- of-season Paris setting. Holoch's story takes place over a wintery week in the Paris that exists after the tourists have gone home and the cold has driven the boulevardiers indoors. The days are short, the streets empty, and the mood dark, which makes the city a fitting backdrop for a poignant love affair that can't last. Miriam, a translator of French novels, has impulsively flown to Paris to check up on her longtime friend, Italian-born Gabriella. Usually a regular correspondent, Gabriella has stopped writing, and Miriam worries (she's overly sensitive and does this a lot) that something is wrong. She's been in love--so far unrequited--with Gabriella since the two met in New York, when Gabriella and her husband Carlo were both teaching at Columbia. Now, like the knight-errant Gabriella teasingly suggests she resembles, Miriam feels she may have to rescue Gabriella from Carlo. The couple have had a long-troubled and bitter relationship and are currently separated: Gabriella working in Paris, Carlo in New York, and their three young daughters being cared for by relatives in Marseilles. As the week passes, Miriam (who narrates) describes the brief but intensely erotic affair she now has with Gabriella and somberly recalls her past visits to Paris, her previous lovers, and her own mother's death. But the terrible secrets Gabriella confesses to, as well as Gabriella's still confused feelings for Carlo, who wants the family together again, persuade Miriam that their affair is doomed. Angry and unhappy, she leaves Paris knowing that once back in New York her ``memories would be like so many aching bruises, unpredictably and erratically sensitive.'' A rather stiff and unconvincing debut: Holoch's lovers never quite come alive or glow as the City of Light does, even in this dark time of year.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1998
ISBN: 0-571-19922-4
Page count: 230pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1997


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