From Library Journal
Howard uses the format of the almanac as a framework for the deceptively simple story of the relationship between avant-garde artist Louise Moffett and her partner, computer nerd Artie Freeman, whose love founders at the turn of the millennium. The richness and wonder of this work comes from the characters, relationships, and historical musings that Howard weaves into Louise and Artie's tale and uses to instruct the reader on the nature and meaning of love. Complex and compelling, the work addresses important questions as it compels the reader to make intellectual leaps between the ideas of scholars past and those of the novelist present. This challenging novel deserves to be read more than once. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.?Caroline M. Hallsworth, Cambrian Coll., Ont.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Howard, a quietly prodigious literary talent on a par with Margaret Atwood, Mary Gordon, and Anne Tyler, loves to bend nonfiction forms to fictional purposes. The title of her last novel, Natural History
(1992), alludes to its pseudoscientific structure, and here she improvises on the concept of an almanac, surrounding a classic love story with bits of astrology, meteorology, history, and miscellaneous observations. She also plays at predicting the future, setting her tale in January 2000, but it is the past that most concerns her brooding characters. Louise, a painter, and Artie, her orphan lover, have a battle royal at her New Year Eve's party and suffer, in the aftermath, several months of separation, an interlude that causes them to reflect on their complicated family histories. As they slowly realign, like heavenly bodies destined for a celestial event, Howard punctuates her affecting narrative with almanaclike entries about such subjects as ancient Egypt, Benjamin Franklin, and Virginia Woolf, exploring, along the way, the often unexpected consequences of acts both creative and destructive. Donna Seaman