|As Ann Lord lies on her deathbed, her daughter delivers a balsam pillow from the attic. At first the ailing woman is confused, but suddenly the scent reminds her of the "wild tumult" she experienced 40 years earlier: |
Something stole into her as she walked in the dark, a dream she'd had long ago. The air was so black she was unable to see her arms, it was a warm summer night. Above her she could make out the dark line of the tops of spruce trees and a sky lit with stars. She felt the warm tar through the soles of her shoes. The boy beside her took her hand. In the porous world between conscious and unconscious the protagonist of Evening revisits the great passions of her life, along with its considerable disappointments. The boy in the dark remains the fixed point--not so much because he is the most important man in her life, but because of the untapped possibilities he represents. Meanwhile, friends and relations come to sit by Ann Lord's side as she veers between clarity and feverish recollection.
In her third novel, Susan Minot takes some new risks--her narrative spanning seven decades of memory and her style ranging from Stegneresque particularity to the exquisite abstraction Virginia Woolf perfected in To the Lighthouse. Equal parts memory and desire, fiction and poetry, Evening is a seductive story made more so by the measured pace of details emerging, one by one, like stars. --Cristina Del Sesto