From Library Journal
Two oddly mismatched married couples are the focus of Godwin's (Father Melancholy's Daughter, LJ 2/1/91) powerful new novel. Magda Danvers, once a brilliant literary theorist, now a dying professor at a small private college, is married to "good husband" and former seminarian Francis Lake. "Frannie" devotedly attends to his beloved, impatient older wife while she is dying. Watching this with wonder is Alice, young wife of famous novelist Hugo, who is also teaching at the college. After a botched home birth, Alice and Hugo's baby has died, and their grief has sent the marriage into a frosty decline. Godwin's intensely drawn characters are vividly portrayed during the most intimate times of love, marriage, and death. The result is a winner.--Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
At the center of Godwin's complex novel of loss and mortality is the flamboyant, penetrating Magda Danvers. She was featured in Time
25 years ago as "the Dark Lady of Visions" when she published her doctoral research on visionary poets and prophets before she had defended it. Now 58 years old, a star professor at a college in upstate New York, Magda is taking her own "final examination" under the tutelage of ovarian cancer. At her side is her thoughtful but unreflective husband, Francis Lake, who left the seminary at age 21 to dedicate himself for nearly a quarter-century to Magda rather than to the Lord. As Magda's condition worsens, another grieving couple is drawn into her orbit: fiftyish southern novelist Hugo Henry, the college's writer-in-residence, and his second wife, Alice, formerly his editor, who have just lost their only child in a tragic home birth. Alice in particular has suffered far too many losses in her 34 years, yet she finds refuge in the Danvers-Lake household. Remarkably, Godwin's story is laced with humor, thanks to Magda's enduring wit and the idiocies of a number of her academic colleagues. A Book-of-the-Month Club featured selection, this subtle, moving meditation on the nature of intimacy and influence, and the differences between good matches and good mates, will have wide appeal. Mary Carroll