WHEN SHE WAS GOOD by Philip Roth


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Even though Roth has written only one collection of short stories and one novel, he was quickly established as one of the ablest writers to make the Jewish scene. However this story opens in a midwestern Our Town-small town, even in a cemetery, which is only one of the contrasts in view of his earlier books, and you will sit back comfortably, reading about plain people caught in the grey everydayness of what happens here or anywhere. But before you're through the narrative jackknifes from an insidious slow-take to a doubletake and picks up a formidable drive. Who hasn't known, or thought he'd known, gentle old Will Carroll, assistant postmaster, protective (or is it possessive) of his daughter Myra, now reduced to giving piano lessons; or Whitey, her worthless husband, who doesn't work and does drink; or Lucy, their only daughter, unforgiving toward her father since childhood and now off to college when she is trapped in a pregnancy via Roy Bassart, back from the Army, also not too inclined to work or to marry her. But she sees that he does, and in the next four years you watch Lucy, hardening into a "little ballbreaker of a bitch," proving Thoreau's maxim that there "is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice" and becoming a fiendish figure of revenge and redemption.... Well, When She was Good couldn't be better for what it is although it will probably be reviewed for what it is not; it's a consuming melodrama and even if it takes you unaware, it won't find you asleep.
Pub Date: June 7th, 1967
ISBN: 0679759255
Page count: 341pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1967


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