THE GIRL WHO LOVED GARBO by Rachel Gallagher


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Generally appealing first novel: a young woman attempts to reconcile emotional commitment with the independence exemplified by her idol, Greta Garbo. Gallagher's debut explores a by-now familiar quandary: Can a contemporary woman have it all? But her narrator-protagonist Rebeccah Duffy, an industrial engineer, breaks away from the pack: instead of trying to win over or change the men in her life (long-term boyfriend Eddie, who abandoned architecture for oenology; fast-lane bohemian Joel), she suspects that, like Garbo, she mostly wants to be alone; she resents that ""Men can lead single lives of the mind,"" but that when women make the same choice, ""the whole world judges them lacking"" For the most part, Rebeccah's story has the refreshing feel of real life, though it eventually begins to suffer from overcalculation: Rebeccah's values are simple, but everyone around her has all the latest yuppie appurtenances--allowing the reader to wallow in upscale details while maintaining a stance of integrity; Rebeccah's love of intellect seems genuine at first, but her constant displays of knowledge eventually become irritating, especially considering the occasional lapses in grammar and misuse of big words and her penchant for following each emotional moment with a reference to science--pulsars, the ontogenetic chain, or the making of statements like ""Eddie's and my ideals about each other had been shattered into millions of subatomic panicles."" And Rebeccah's closing epiphany is too easy: either a long overdue realization or else a cop-out. A promising debut that occasionally goes astray, but, still, a new writer to watch.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1990
ISBN: 0595186882
Publisher: Donald Fine