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A LIFE OF HER OWN by Marc...

A LIFE OF HER OWN by Marc Brandel (Houghton Mifflin: $17.95). Marc Brandel’s gripping novel chronicles 34 years in the life of Carol Clavering, an Englishwoman menaced by a demented ex-lover. Soon after Carol arrives in New York in 1939, she meets Max Ludlow, an impassioned Trotskyite, whom she comes to adore. Although ingenuous, enterprising young Carol shuns Max’s ideology, their devotion withstands long separation during World War II. They eventually reunite; Carol becomes a successful literary agent, and Max espouses Freudianism along with politics. Unfortunately, Max--now steeped in psychoanalytic theory--accuses Carol of being too muddle-headed to be a competent mother. After their acrimonious parting in 1949, Carol blunders into meaningless relationships before she marries film maker Jason Stone and starts working as a television script writer. Jason initially supplies the stability Carol craves, but his infidelities finally drive her into a retaliatory affair with Max, which results in her pregnancy. Following their brief liaison, Carol uneasily observes that Max’s zealotry had transformed him into a “tormented, malignant creature,” so she quakes when he begins stalking her years later in order to find and kidnap their daughter. Brandel eloquently depicts the ravaging effects of fanaticism, as well as Carol’s metamorphosis from ingenue to resilient adult. His exquisitely bittersweet writing enhances this novel’s impact.


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