The Widow's Children: A Novel

The Widow's Children: A Novel

Paula Fox

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0393319636

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


"Chekhovian. . . . Every line of Fox's story, every gesture of her characters, is alive and surprising."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

On the eve of their trip to Africa, Laura Maldonada Clapper and her husband, Desmond, sit in a New York City hotel room, drinking scotch-and-sodas and awaiting the arrival of three friends: Clara Hansen, Laura's timid, brow-beaten daughter from a previous marriage; Carlos, Laura's flamboyant and charming brother; and Peter Rice, a melancholy editor whom Laura hasn't seen for over a year. But what begins as a bon voyage party soon parlays into a bitter, claustrophobic clash of family resentment. From the hotel room to the tony restaurant to which the five embark, Laura presides over the escalating innuendo and hostility with imperial cruelty, for she is hiding the knowledge that her mother, the family matriarch, has died of a heart attack that morning. A novel as intense as it is unerringly observed, The Widow's Children is another revelation of the storyteller's art from the incomparable Paula Fox.

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anyone was there except Laura, who would, from habit, allow him a ceremony of disappointment. “Now, Carlos, a little stoicism, please,” she said tolerantly. “Just imagine how would you feel if you were inside a huge airplane brought down in the desert, and no water, and men in burnooses pointing machine guns at you, and you the only Jew among the passengers.” “I’d prefer it to this,” Carlos replied sharply. “And I don’t have to imagine being a Jew!” Peter Rice laughed suddenly, shortly. At the

passions of great intensity, and sets them simmering, combining, and exploding like volatile liquid elements.” —L. S. Schwartz, Saturday Review “A drama of rival presences and outlooks…. A compelling and satisfying book…. It has in it, especially apparent in the wit, a worldliness which it could not do without, and which is that of someone who has lived long enough to have learned a good deal…. Remarkable.” —Karl Miller, New York Review of Books Books by Paula Fox Novels Poor

taken a candid shot of him and she was sure of its truth. He had been out—astonishingly—with a woman. But he saw a trace of struggle in her smile. He guessed she had been listening, half consciously, for the sounds of his morning presence above her and had not heard them. Anger was not among the emotions she permitted herself. He stood there, seeing the very core of their connection, revealed like the core of a halved apple. Violet, kind, smug, jealous; he, recognizing the jealousy, faintly

workman who was installing a mirror in a corner of a wall. The proprietor, an elderly man with a bramble of beard, his fat torso encased in wine-colored corduroy, said, “Well, Mr. Rice, you see what I have been pushed to do? They’ve been stealing me blind, coming in here and ripping off my stock. God knows the end of all this. There’s more stealing than buying. Now, who’s supposed to watch that mirror all the time?” Peter looked up into the mirror. “See?” asked the proprietor, “you can see

curving up. Her body was not youthful but it wasn’t matronly either. Laura was fifty-five. She had just slipped her hand beneath the cover of a box which she was about to open. “Oh, Clara. I was just telling Carlos that Desmond bought me six dresses yesterday, all by himself. Can you imagine such a chap? Desmond…you’re so good! But he’s so bad! So extravagant!” Carlos went to Clara and put his arm around her. “And I don’t even have one,” he whispered in her ear. She hugged him. He pressed his

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