GOOD HEARTS by Reynolds Price
Kirkus Star


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Price reprises the lives of Wesley Beavers and Rosacoke Mustian, the lovers of his first book, A Long and Happy Life--finding them now old marrieds in Raleigh, N.C., parents of a married son, and with at least Wesley facing age 50 with midlife despair. Wesley and Rosa are golden, Edenic types--and every page (every line even) of Price's book assures us that whatever distortions or exaggerations fate has in store, all will eventually be made right. Thus Wesley, before one Christmas, leaves Rosa altogether, ending up in Nashville, where he'll tarry in the trailer of a younger woman. Thus Rosa, alone, shocked, nearly broken, is raped one night in her own bed. Thus Rosa's holy-idiot brother Rato comes to live with her, guard her, shed grace like dandruff. And thus Wesley and Rosa will be reunited not by any change of heart but by a deepening thereof. Except for surprising Rato, a North Carolina Myshkin, every character is the book ""honors"" (to use one of Price's favorite verbs) life--to the extent that a reader can feel (with some unease) that he's reading a series of prose psalms and not a story at all. People speak with mannered and musical humor throughout, deciduous epigrams--the style that made Kate Vaiden so liquid but here seems a little too paradisiacal. Yet if the overcontrivance and authorial intention approach clottiness, no one with an ear will not be charmed most times and often moved by the Biblical/down-home musicality of the prose here, especially in Wesley's and Rosa's self-searchings.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
Publisher: Atheneum