The Ragged Way People Fall Out of Love

Elizabeth Cox, Author
Elizabeth Cox, Author North Point Press $18.95 (203p) ISBN 978-0-86547-446-8
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
In Stringer's Ridge, N.C., the marriage of William Hanner, architect, and artist Molly is dissolving. Although William precipitates the break and Molly acquiesces passively, both are distressed: ``They didn't yet realize the ragged way people fall out of love and how it is never completely done.'' In her second novel, Cox ( Familiar Ground ) tells us how Molly, in her daily life as mother--of 16-year-old Joe, Franci, who's 12, and Lucas, age 7--both relinquishes love and claims it. With her recently widowed father, Molly looks back at childhood experiences of loving; with her astronomy teacher, she considers loving anew; with her children, and with the sympathetic figure of a local misfit, she is reminded of the vulnerability inherent in attachment. Cox's simple, meticulous prose infuses this domestic tale with a subtle force, but the full effect of her insight is constrained by an flatness in tone and an excess of metaphoric material--Molly's art, lunar eclipse, the disappearance of her son, a fatal fire--that ultimately create distance rather than intimacy. Cox's clear-eyed vision, especially keen when trained on family dramas, remains unique and promising. (Feb.)
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