HOPE'S CADILLAC by Patricia Page


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 A debut novel by a California writer whose short stories have appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere, this tale of a 1960s Houston housewife who comes of age when her husband abandons her feels lamentably dated--though its winsome protagonist and unusual secondary characters provide a certain charm. Born in Indiana and married young, Hope Fairman has adapted rather well, she thinks, to life as a housewife in suburban Houston in the tumultuous '60s. Her daughter attends Blossom Street Free School, a school for freethinkers that Hope helped found with her Unitarian minister and other friends. Her husband, Clay, though something of a stick-in-the-mud, seems happy in his job at Houston Power and Light. Her three-year-old son obviously enjoys his mother's company. If Hope's life isn't particularly exciting, at least it's comfortable--that is, until Clay abruptly packs his bags and moves out, leaving Hope shell-shocked, virtually unemployable, and saddled with the family's substantial bills. Attempting to cope with the unbelievable news that her husband has fallen in love with one of the Blossom Street School's single moms, devastated when he sues her for custody of the children and wins, Hope retreats to an experimental commune run by her minister, takes up with a Cajun dockworker, befriends a troubled child who once threatened to put out her daughter's eyes, and in general attempts to reconstruct her life along patterns that better suit her (hitherto unacknowledged) interests and needs. In the end, her old love of photography develops into a vocation, she establishes a small home near the water, and her daughter returns to her--all rewards of Hope's determination to regain her self-respect and be happy, no matter what the odds. Sensitive writing, predictable plot. Perhaps a fresher story will emerge in Page's next book. (Author tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-393-03974-9
Page count: 264pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996