THE LONG RAIN by Peter Gadol
Kirkus Star

THE LONG RAIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A heartfelt and engrossing story of moral failure and a quest for redemption from the versatile young author of Closer to the Sun (1996), etc. Gadol's fourth novel takes place in California's wine-growing country, where Jason Dark, a lawyer, is impelled by his transgressions as husband and father to remake himself by restoring his late father's moribund vineyard. He succeeds, and gets his family and life back; all runs smoothly until Jason's habit of driving at high speeds alone at night on nearby mountain roads exacts its toll: He hits and kills a teenaged boy and, unable to bear the thought of once again losing everything he loves, conceals his crime. A drifter and confessed car thief, Troy Frantz, is apprehended and, persuaded he may well have been the hit-and-run driver, confesses. Jason's agony of conscience forces him to act, pro bono, as Frantz's attorney. He tells himself he can live with his lie, performing this penance--until his growing closeness to the accused triggers an unexpected and deeply ironic sequence of climactic actions and choices. Melodrama and coincidence do rear their heads rather too frequently, but there's so much going on in this strongly imagined novel that we easily forgive its excesses. Gadol fleshes out its main narrative with authoritatively detailed descriptions of grape-growing and wine-making, and he efficiently juxtaposes Jason's internalized struggles with a harrowing account of his pained relations with his wife Julia, son Tim, and the luckless Troy Frantz. What's fascinating--and impressive--is the degree to which Gadol forces our identification with its self-deceiving and deceitful protagonist: We're made to understand how he could have acted as he did, and to believe we ourselves might well have done the same. Gadol is especially convincing on the mixtures of nobility and meanness that are in us all. If his plot isn't altogether credible, its comprehension of human nature surely is--and in plenty.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1997
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Picador/St. Martin's