George Crawley has finally got his life running along satisfyingly straight lines. Having made a success of his career and saved his faltering marriage, he is secure in the belief that he is master of his own destiny. Then comes the tragic blow - fate presents him with an apparently insoluble problem. Except that the word 'insoluble' just isn't part of the man's vocabulary. George will stop at nothing, nothing, to get his life back on the rails again.
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This dependably lively British author (Tongues of Flame, 1986, etc.) scores again with his story of a devil-take-the-hindmost yuppie challenged by the birth of a deformed baby. When George Crawley was very young, his missionary father died an unnecessary martyr's death in Africa and endangered the entire family. Back in England, watching his selfless mother, another indefatigable Christian, slaving for his unappreciative grandfather and retarded Aunt Mavis in their shabby home, George derides ``the saving...of souls.'' If his mother wants to live on ``the planet Goodness,'' fine; George will look out for George. He quickly escapes his embarrassing family, marries money (happily, he's also in love with the charming Shirley), and lands an excellent job designing computer software. Life is a childless, double-income paradise until Shirley does a U-turn and decides she wants a kid; after stormy arguments, she gets her way. Hilary is born with a rare condition akin to Down's syndrome. How could this be? Then it dawns on George: Aunt Mavis! Bad genes! Why was he never warned not to have children? After venting his fury on his grandfather, he casts around for a solution; but an operation leaves Hilary worse off, and the faith-healer cannot work a miracle. George is no monster; his love for his baby girl equals Shirley's, but his nature craves action--which means (ultimately) euthanasia, which means a cleansing fire: he will sacrifice their beautiful house for a new, childless life. Parks provides a stunning climax in which George, against the odds, saves his own soul. The brisk, slangy style here is an effective antidote to the downbeat material; this is not a gloomy book. Even more skillful is Parks's characterization of George: we watch this guy raining blows on a helpless old man and yet retain some sympathy for him. Nice work. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Having previously depicted the excesses of religious fundamentalism in Tongues of Flame , Parks here ironically explores the meaning of moral "goodness" from the point of view of a fiercely atheistic protagonist. George Crawley is the son of a missionary murdered in Burundi and a piously self-sacrificing, "obstinately optimistic" mother, who takes George and his sister back to England and dedicates the rest of her life to caring for her foul-tempered old father and the "walking wounded" of the Methodist Church. Scornful of all religious observance and determined to rise in the world, George transcends his lower-middle-class background in a marriage to wealthy Shirley Harcourt, with whom he pursues the good life--until she gives birth to a deformed, severely handicapped child. Scenes reminiscent of Joe Egg detail baby Hilary's travails and her parents' realization that she will always be a burden. Though he learns to love the child, George is determined to end Hilary's existence--and Shirley's martyrdom in caring for her--via euthanasia. The evolution of George's moral conscience, his epiphany during a crisis he has deliberately created, and Shirley's own decision in the novel's astonishing denouement will keep readers absorbed in this mordant, thought-provoking tragicomedy.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Vintage. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0099572575