Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008
: Author and essayist Francine Prose's novel Goldengrove
will be a surprise to readers familiar with her famously razor-sharp dialogue and tough-love attitude towards her memorable characters. In this affecting coming-of-age novel, Prose introduces us to Nico, a chubby thirteen-year old girl who imagines nothing more than keeping her parents at arms length and hanging out with her older sister, Margaret and her charismatic boyfriend during the long summer break. Instead, Nico finds herself navigating the perilous course of mourning after her beloved sister drowns in the lake just beyond the family's home. With little support from her grief-stricken parents, she must come to terms with the tragedy largely on her own. Prose's ability to situate the adult reader within the heart and mind of young Nico is quite remarkable, and verges on the poetic. Goldengrove
is a poignant story that prompts us to retrace those often long-forgotten, but monumental early steps towards acceptance and understanding. --Lauren Nemroff
From Publishers Weekly
In Prose's deeply touching and absorbing 15th novel, narrator Nico, 13, comes upon Gerard Manley Hopkins's Spring and Fall (which opens Margaret, are you grieving/ Over Goldengrove unleaving?) in her father's upstate New York bookstore, also named Goldengrove. It's the summer after her adored older sister, Margaret—possessed of beauty, a lovely singing voice and a poetic nature—casually dove from a rowboat in a nearby lake and drowned. In emotive detail, Nico relates the subsequent events of that summer. Nico was a willing confidant and decoy in Margaret's clandestine romance with a high school classmate, Aaron, and Nico now finds that she and Aaron are drawn to each other in their mutual bereavement. Unhinged by grief, Nico's parents are distracted and careless in their oversight of Nico, and Nico is deep in perilous waters before she realizes that she is out of her depth. Prose eschews her familiar satiric mode. She fluidly maintains Nico's tender insights into the human condition as Nico comes to discover her own way of growing up and moving on. (Sept.)
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