Paula Fox The Widow's Children

ISBN 13: 9780007150373

The Widow's Children

3.77 avg rating
( 233 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780007150373: The Widow's Children

A classic American novel from the author of Borrowed Finery -- 'Chekhovian...Every line of Fox's story, every gesture of her characters, is alive and surprising.' New York Times On the eve of their trip to Africa, Laura Maldonada Clapper and her husband, Desmond, sit in a New York City hotel room, drinking scotch-and-sodas and awaiting the arrival of three guests: Clara, Laura's timid daughter from a previous marriage; Carlos, Laura's flamboyant brother; and Peter, a melancholy editor whom Laura hasn't seen for over a year. But what begins as a bon voyage party soon becomes a bitter, claustrophobic clash of family resentment. From the hotel room to the tiny restaurant to which the five embark, Laura presides over the escalating innuendo and hostility with imperial cruelty, for she is hiding the knowledge that her mother, the family matriarch, has died of a heart attack that morning. Intense and unerringly observed, The Widow's Children is a tour de force from the incomparable Paula Fox.

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Review:

First published in 1976, The Widow's Children, with its unpalatable family wistfully gnashing at one another, has long defied critical description. Now that it's been rereleased, with a fine new introduction by Andrea Barrett, it's time again for readers to approach this spare--yet unsparing--novel. Approach with something like terror, or at least a tremulous respect, for Paula Fox's tale of one family's massive, various history awes with its marvelous compression. We learn these people inside and out in just one evening. Divided into seven chapters ("Drinks," "Corridor," "Restaurant," "The Messenger," "Two Brothers," "Clara," "The Funeral"), the book tells of the Maldonadas, Spanish-Cuban immigrants to America who now find themselves middle-aged and living in the past, galvanized only by sister Laura's emotional excesses. "These people," notes Peter, a friend, "had not signed any social contract."

Laura leads her husband, Desmond, her brother, Carlos, her daughter, Clara, and Peter a not-so-merry dance through one acrimonious dinner in a pretentious Manhattan restaurant. Practically the only ugly truth she doesn't manage to dredge up is the one she learned that very afternoon: Alma, Carlos and Laura's mother, has died in a nursing home. But the plot is not what we think about when we say this is a very, very good novel. Fox's marvelous control and formalism ultimately give The Widow's Children its strange, singular power. She has a poet's ability not just to imply unsayable mysteries but to imbue the unsaid with treachery, wit, emotion, and irony, all hanging in a vaporous cloud. Each character in turns speaks a pained monologue; we don't like them--we don't, in a sense, even care--but we can't stop watching this elaborately choreographed car wreck.

Along the way, Fox gets off a number of good ones, as in this description of a neighbor: "a tall muscular man who entered into and departed from rooms quickly, athletically, as though following a secret program of body building." Her wit leavens our impatience with these difficult people. And that's a clever swindle, for she then delivers a chilling tale with infinite grace. This is in no way an expected novel. --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

Paula Fox is the author of six novels, including Desperate Characters, The Widow's Children, and Poor George. She is also a Newbery Award-winning children's author. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Paula Fox
Published by Flamingo (2003)
ISBN 10: 0007150377 ISBN 13: 9780007150373
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2.

Paula Fox
Published by Flamingo (2003)
ISBN 10: 0007150377 ISBN 13: 9780007150373
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Flamingo, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0007150377

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

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