BEYOND DESERVING by Sandra Scofield


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 Scofield's second novel (after Gringa, 1989)--a family chronicle about twins (one good-as-gold, the other hard-to-handle), their wives, and their parents--is good at orchestrating the attractions and repulsions of intertwined lives over some 15 years. Gully and Geneva Fisher's twin sons are Fisher and Michael. Fisher, once in prison, suffering from post-traumatic shock syndrome a decade after Vietnam, is married to Katie, who leaves him in 1978 when he hits her. She deposits daughter Rhea in Texas with her mother, then finds a new job and a boyfriend, geneticist Jeff, while mulling over divorce as Fish disappears and reappears. Meanwhile, Michael is too predictable to wife Ursula, who works with failed families (``If only Michael would surprise her. Doing what she can not imagine''). They also have troubles with son Carter (``emotionally immature, maybe morally retarded'') and daughter Juliette (aspiring to be a dancer). Scofield then shifts to Geneva and Gully (Gully having once spent time in the state mental hospital) and expertly shuffles her characters, contrasting Fisher's ``sheer energy'' and wife Katie's indecision (Fisher hits her but also reads ``The Sotweed Factor to her by kerosene lamp'') to Ursula's frustration with her husband and alienated children. Still, this is an all's-well-that-ends-well book: Katie finally brings Rhea back and decides ``I seem to have Fish in me as much as ever, and I can't just set him aside''; Michael and Ursula and the kids work things out; and Gully starts writing the story of his life in response to Rhea's curiosity. The characters can be a bit schematic, but Scofield does poetic justice to one of those messy, awful families where everybody is always getting into everybody else's business. Overall, a good read full of wise detail.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-877946-07-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991


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