Book Reviews of The Rest of Life : Three Novellas

The Rest of Life : Three Novellas
The Rest of Life Three Novellas
Author: Mary Gordon
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ISBN-13: 9780140149074
ISBN-10: 0140149074
Publication Date: 8/1/1994
Pages: 272
Rating:
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3

3.3 stars, based on 3 ratings
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Book Type: Paperback
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3 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Rest of Life : Three Novellas on + 63 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a book of three short-stories. The First one a woman seduces a priest and has an adulturous affair with him. The second one is about a woman in love with an Italian War Corespondont.The last one is my favorite it is about a teenage couple that make a suicide pact. The girl backs out and she is telling the story of what happened and how she got on with the rest of her life. Thus the title "Rest of Life". It was just an okay read for me.
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From Publishers Weekly
Gordon ( Good Boys and Bad Girls ) here collects three novellas of characteristically understated power about the strange ways of love--and death--among women and men. The title novella concerns love remembered, as Paola, an elderly woman traveling through Italy, recollects her youthful romance with Leo, who died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds after she reneged on their teenaged suicide pact: "They would make love. Then they would shoot themselves." In "Living at Home," another female narrator tells of her ongoing relationship with Lauro, an Italian journalist living with her in London who "isn't afraid of death" and who lives on the adrenaline of risk as he covers revolution around the world. The best of the three fictions may be "Immaculate Man," about the unlikely love between a divorced mother and a virginal middle-aged priest, Clement, who is also desired, diplomatically, by Boniface, the priest who was Clement's superior for more than 20 years in an upstate New York monastery. Narrating in the first person, the mother performs an obsessive act of devotion to love, the lover, and love's inevitable end as Gordon dwells on problems of the flesh and of the spirit with a tranquil, painful sense of doom. Mortal reverie is her forte, and love and death are her transfiguring double muses.
From Kirkus Reviews
Convoluted meditations by women on love and displacement--in Gordon's first fiction since The Other Side (1989). In ``Immaculate Man,'' the best of the three novellas here, a divorced middle-aged New York social-worker is pondering her love affair with a Catholic priest, Father Clement, hitherto a 43-year- old virgin. What Clement has done for this agnostic woman, fast losing her attractiveness, is revive her faith in ``appetite''; what she has done for him is less positive: ``I think that being my lover has displaced him.'' At the least, she has caused this guileless man to dissemble. Is she simply a bridge to other relationships that will further taint his spirituality? The middle- aged protagonists of ``Living at Home'' court displacement. Lauro is Italian, a death-defying journalist who covers revolutions; his thrice-married lover is the English daughter of German Jews, a doctor working with autistic children (who represent the terror of total displacement). The two live together in London when Lauro is not traveling; the arrangement (``mated but, in the way of our age, partial'') works, for their relationship is rooted in ``satisfied desire.'' It is Paola Smaldone, in the title piece, who has experienced the most extreme displacement. A native of Turin, Italy, she agreed in 1927 to a suicide pact with her profoundly unhappy and romantic teenage lover. Leo shot himself; Paola balked. Her adoring father, overwhelmed with shame, sent her to America. Now, 63 years later, she is back visiting with her son and his girlfriend, seeking the ``line running through her body like a wick'' that will connect the passionate girl to the anesthetized adult who has sleepwalked through ``the rest of life.''
reviewed The Rest of Life : Three Novellas on + 651 more book reviews
Three powerful novellas tell of women who experience impassioned and transfiguring love affairs.


From Kirkus Reviews
Convoluted meditations by women on love and displacement--in Gordon's first fiction since The Other Side (1989). In ``Immaculate Man,'' the best of the three novellas here, a divorced middle-aged New York social-worker is pondering her love affair with a Catholic priest, Father Clement, hitherto a 43-year- old virgin. What Clement has done for this agnostic woman, fast losing her attractiveness, is revive her faith in ``appetite''; what she has done for him is less positive: ``I think that being my lover has displaced him.'' At the least, she has caused this guileless man to dissemble. Is she simply a bridge to other relationships that will further taint his spirituality? The middle- aged protagonists of ``Living at Home'' court displacement. Lauro is Italian, a death-defying journalist who covers revolutions; his thrice-married lover is the English daughter of German Jews, a doctor working with autistic children (who represent the terror of total displacement). The two live together in London when Lauro is not traveling; the arrangement (``mated but, in the way of our age, partial'') works, for their relationship is rooted in ``satisfied desire.'' It is Paola Smaldone, in the title piece, who has experienced the most extreme displacement. A native of Turin, Italy, she agreed in 1927 to a suicide pact with her profoundly unhappy and romantic teenage lover. Leo shot himself; Paola balked. Her adoring father, overwhelmed with shame, sent her to America. Now, 63 years later, she is back visiting with her son and his girlfriend, seeking the ``line running through her body like a wick'' that will connect the passionate girl to the anesthetized adult who has sleepwalked through ``the rest of life.'' These novellas grow through the slow accretion of thoughts and images rather than plot and dialogue; this makes them hard going, Gordon's elegant language notwithstanding. In their rarefied atmosphere, her lovers' passion is a pale fire and, finally, unconvincing.



my notes:
The Rest of Life by Mary Gordon. This book is three novellas about three women each of whom tells the story of the lover who most altered her life. Gordon is a very introspective, insightful writer. However, she has chosen 3 of the most whining, neurotic, self-absorbed women, through whom to explore and express her thoughts, that I have ever encountered in a book. I would not last through lunch with any of the three.