A TIME TO MOURN: One Woman's Journey Through Widowhood by Rebecca Rice

A TIME TO MOURN: One Woman's Journey Through Widowhood

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An intensely personal chronicle of a young woman's first year of widowhood. After expeditiously handling the details of the funeral of her much-older, much-loved husband, Len, Rice sinks into a ""sleepwalking state."" She is overwhelmed by overdue mortgage payments, plied-up bills, an IRS audit; her work as a corporate editor, writer provides only irritation. She decides to return to free-lance writing, takes in a paying roommate, and, at first, produces nothing but random thoughts on her unhappiness and sense of ineptitude. These finally coalesce into an essay on mourning that is snapped up by the New York Times. She muses: ""In the sixth month of my grieving, I am like a fetus. . .starting to move about [but] still too fragile to take my place in the world."" She marshals her energies to travel to Oxford, where she attends a summer seminar on Chaucer. At first, the old city seems like a ""necropolis,"" filled with mementos of its illustrious dead. She finds no trace of Len, who had once studied there. A chance encounter with Sean, an Irish-born professor at Northern Illinois University, leads to a love affair that ""turns Oxford into a radiant Byzantium, a magical Xanadu"" and enables Rice, at last, to ""accept Len's passage with philosophical detachment."" Well written and searingly honest--but not for those who liked Virginia Graham's Life After Harry (1988), which portrayed widowhood as a laugh-a-minute sitcom. And for an equally revelatory but more universally applicable account of widowhood, see Elizabeth Harper Neeld's Seven Choices, reviewed above.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1990
Publisher: New American Library