AFTER LYDIA by Sandra Tyler


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 A disappointing second novel that again explores the mother- daughter relationship but lacks the consummate writing and insight that distinguished Blue Glass (1992). Reading more like a first draft than a mature work, the book suggests and sketches out a few basic themes, but no more; all that remains are the bare bones and a series of incidents. As the bones aren't good, and the incidents less than compelling, the story has to rely on its theme: a young woman, Vickie, learning to understand herself and her mother, Lydia, who may or may not have committed suicide. Vickie, a photographer notorious for going her own way, has given up a good job in New York to return to the hometown she's been running away from since she was 13. Ostensibly she's there to celebrate grandmother Ruth's 80th birthday, but her real agenda is to delve into her mother's death (while crossing nearby rail tracks), which she cannot accept was an accident. Once back home, Vickie finds Ruth to be listless and distracted, spending lengthy periods in an old car she cannot drive. Older sister Meryl, whose major fault, it seems, has been to be always fair, is unhappy with her husband, Glenn, and has secrets of her own. Lydia's best friend, Gail, an abused spouse who now lives for her dogs, drops suggestive hints. And Vickie's first and only love, Kyle, whom she met when she was 16 and he was in his 30s, hints at another woman in his life. Not much happens as tame secrets are confessed, the birthday party flops, and Grandma tries to drive her car. Vickie realizes that, although she fought with her mother, they were more alike than she'd realized; accepting that it's finally over between her and Kyle, ``she felt a loneliness she couldn't remember.'' This author is capable of better.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0-15-193111-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994