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THE NAMES OF THE MOUNTAINS by Reeve Lindbergh

THE NAMES OF THE MOUNTAINS

By Reeve Lindbergh

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-73148-3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 According to the author, daughter of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh (cf. Dorothy Herrmann's biography, below), this slight, graceful little family study is fully fictional (``the events did not happen''). Righto...but: all the background matters mentioned here--from the death of the father in Hawaii to the loss of a first baby, etc.--plant an identifying flag squarely in Lindbergh territory, and add a special poignancy to this portrait of a family dealing with the incursions of age on their mother, through their love for her and one another. Driving from her home in Vermont with two teenaged girls and a little boy, Cressida travels to Connecticut and 80-year-old mother Alicia. Eventually, all of Alicia's children arrive, plus her sister and a loving neighbor; and throughout the few days of her visit, Cressida contemplates present worries (Alicia's loss of memory, a brother's divorce) and tragedies (the death of Cressida's first baby son), and she also remembers: the patriarch, the famous flyer Cal, known to the younger generation as only a photo in a history book, and now recalled by his daughter with both fear and love. Did Cal know ``how often she [Alicia] escaped right out from under the blaze of words and into the shadowy protected realms of her inner self''? Some of Cressida's meditations have a stunning resonance with the Lindbergh story: Cal and Alicia were like ``a couple living perpetually with the sense of being watched, of guarding against watchers [but they] wrote volumes about themselves for publication.'' As for the present family: ``We watch ourselves; we hide and protect ourselves; and we hide and protect our parents.'' In this tribute to her aged mother, Lindbergh stresses ``Alicia's'' loving gentleness, but also her strong life apart. Lindbergh's prose has a gentle cadence and charm (see her eloquent juvenile View from the Air, p. 1140). Pleasant, and with special value as an insight into a famous family.