Book summary: To the Precipice


In an unsparing first person, with humor and a kind of insistent intensity which rubs off on the reader as well as the novel, Ruth tells her story which covers some fifteen odd years and consists of several, second best substitutions. She exchanged her poor, Jewish, lower East Side beginnings for an Anglo-Saxon marriage of wealth; at the death of her kid brother for whom she'd always been responsible (and for which her father blames her, unreasonably) she takes on her stepson who becomes a kind of replacement; and she settles for older, prim, somewhat emasculated Walter after David, with whom she has had a sexually intense relationship, shows no desire to marry her. Her marriage to Walter is a comfortable void: David returns, now and then, to bed her; she has babies, three of them and finally David's, to fill the vacuum nature abhors; and finally she is left with an impossible choice and a negative alternative.... All of this pursues a consistent, convincing emotional tack with considerable believability--and like Ruth, it's a novel for the younger woman which is a nice compromise between feeling and intelligence.

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