From Library Journal
The story Delbanco (In the Name of Mercy, LJ 8/95) tells here is a familiar one: a charismatic college professor, Paul Ballard, falls in love with his beautiful and adoring female student Elizabeth. Delbanco handles the first part of this story in a masterly fashion, evoking with great skill the tender beginnings of a romance between the lonely professor and his idealistic student on the picturesque campus of Catamount College in Vermont in the late 1960s. Unfortunately, however, as the novel moves forward and the author introduces plot complications, the book loses much of its strength and charm. Paul suffers a near-fatal accident and inexplicably turns against Elizabeth. Elizabeth discovers that she is pregnant and gives up her daughter for adoption. Elizabeth and Paul are estranged for 25 years and are finally united. Delbanco introduces profoundly compelling themes?about "grand passion," loss, forgiveness, memory, and the tragic dimension of life?but he does not develop these themes successfully. Not recommended.?Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community-Technical Coll., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Reworking an old romance plot, Delbanco creates an often engaging account of a couple's lifelong exploration of love, apart and together. The principal lovers, Elizabeth and Paul, meet and consummate their relationship while she is his student at a small college in Vermont in 1969. After Paul has proposed marriage and Elizabeth has refused, and he has been hit by a car, they break off communications, until their child, surrendered for adoption in 1970 and wholly unbeknownst to Paul, tracks down Elizabeth 25 years later, who in turn tracks down Paul. This first interim period is somewhat unevenly dramatized, but the story revives when Paul begins to reenter the social world and when daughter Sally urgently articulates her desire to hear from her mother--"Would you tell me who you are . . . and what you were thinking and here's your big chance Mom. Your chance of a lifetime: write back." Such a determined meditation on love as this novel provides may give those usually fatigued by such matters second thoughts. Jim O'Laughlin