This is a novel that drifts, like fallen leaves swirling along on a slow, meandering stream. There's hardly anything that could be called a plot. A cavalcade of incidental characters wander on and off the stage; light go up; scene changes occur. It's at times cinematic, often dream-woven, introspective. Salter clearly has a love affair with NYC and the country residences up the Hudson Valley; that setting permeates his prose (and he's less effective in scenes set elsewhere). Much has been written about Salter's prose and it is indeed spectacular: startlingly acute phrases saying much in a very few elegantly crafted words. If you appreciate brilliant writing, this book is for you. That said however, there are problems:
Although the two protagonists are skillfully and inventively drawn, I found them not particularly interesting people: upper middle class New Yorkers who are ultimately inconsequential. They pursue their privileged lives without understanding how blessed they are in the grand scheme of things. They feel unfulfilled and in the end all they leave behind to justify their existence are their two daughters. It's a sad tale and I found the first two parts to be essentially a long preliminary, a set-up for what takes place toward the end. Four stars on the strength of Salter's exceptional prose.
Lovely, lyrical, heartbreaking story of a marriage and its dissolution.
robertrweller thinks this title is suitable for All Ages
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