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W.O. Mitchell.
Toronto, ON: McClelland and Stewart, 1988.
276pp., cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 0-7710-6075-0. A Douglas Gibson Book. CIP.


Reviewed by Elaine Balpataky.

Volume 17 Number 2
1989 March

The hero of this novel is a seventy-six-year-old widower, Doctor Lyon, who has just been deprived of his only social outlet - his position as a professor in the English department of Livingston University. Lonely but refusing to be alone, he places a want ad for a female companion. Wonderfully, he acquires a family in the persons of Nadya, an actress, and her five-year-old daughter, Rosemary.

His happiness is almost complete and his work - a biography of Mark Twain, to whom he talks and with whom he identifies - is proceeding well. Suddenly hatred and violence shatter his new-found peace. Rosemary is kidnapped while her mother is away, by Charles Slaughter, a deranged graduate student who is seeking revenge against Nadya. (Slaughter is reminiscent of Saint Sammy in Who Has Seen We Wind (Seal Books, 1982), but with an evil twist.)

The resolution leaves Lyon once more alone, talking to Sam Clemens, but hopeful and joyful now as he looks forward to completing his work before life's end.

This novel will interest mature, thoughtful readers. Its hero is a warm, human figure, "occasionally foulmouthed," but lovable. His plight is one we will all face, should we live long enough - old age, with all its problems, physical and emotional. His manner of dealing with it is courageous and heartwarming.

Elaine Balpataky, Ingersoll D.C.l., Ingersoll, ON.
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