Dara Falcon is brilliant, manipulative, a pathological liar. The novel's narrator, Jean Warner, is perfect prey for her. Suddenly Jean's life, her marriage--her idea of herself--are dramatically wrenched out of their seemingly comfortable, if unexamined, balance. And in the process, one of Ann Beattie's urgent themes--the sometimes subtle and ...
Dara Falcon is brilliant, manipulative, a pathological liar. The novel's narrator, Jean Warner, is perfect prey for her. Suddenly Jean's life, her marriage--her idea of herself--are dramatically wrenched out of their seemingly comfortable, if unexamined, balance. And in the process, one of Ann Beattie's urgent themes--the sometimes subtle and sometimes startling difference between how things look and how things "are"--is compellingly explored.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-04-07 Raised after her parents' death by an unloving maiden aunt, young Jean Warner has struggled to leave the loneliness of her childhood behind: she dropped out of college, rushed into marriage and lost herself as best she could in the bosom of her husband's large, close-knit New Hampshire family. But when she falls under the spell of Darcy Fisher, aka Dara Falcon, a seductive aspiring actress with a mysterious past, Jean's marriage begins to reveal its flaws, and Jean is forced to taste the bitterness that permeates her new family's claustrophobic self-involvement. In what is her first true coming-of-age novel, Beattie (Picturing Will; Another You) returns to the 1970s that she once chronicled firsthandŠalmost invariably, for her characters, a time of domestic dissolution and disillusionment. As in Beattie's more recent novels, however, the pain here holds some promise of redemption, or at least eventual contentment (Jean tells her story from the safe distance of the 1990s and a happy second marriage). The texture of Nixon- and Ford-era upper-middle-class life, the minutiae and conversational rhythms that made Beattie's name as an observer of contemporary culture, bear less of her story's burden than they do in earlier fiction. In all, this is perhaps Beattie's most traditional work to date (it is certainly one of her most accomplished): in their different ways, heroine and villainess live out the dictum (most famously phrased by George Eliot) that character is destiny. Or, as Jean puts it, "Unless you're very, very luckyŠwhich, as everyone knows, we so rarely are when we really, truly need luckŠthose things we've done wrong will inevitably boomerang." What finally separates Jean from Dara, and from many of Beattie's most pathetic (and sympathetic) characters, is the ability to learn from her own failings. That ability makes this novel a comedyŠand something of a relief for readers who have always trusted Beattie to tell the truth about her generation's romantic troubles, even when the truth was all cloud and no silver lining. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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