Boston : Little, Brown and Co., 1970. First edition. Hardcover. 245 pages ; 21 cm. $5.95 dust jacket. Very good copy; no underlines or markings within the pages. Satisfaction guaranteed!
When Shirley Hazzard's first novel, THE EVENING OF THE HOLIDAY, was pub' lished in 1966, it was hailed as a work of exceptional distinction. "Near perfect" in the words of Time, it was summed up by Paul Horgan as "one of the most beautiful short novels ever written." With the publication of this new novel, which casts a spell we can now recognize as characteristic of its author, Miss Hazzard's reputæ tion is certain to be enhanced.
The setting is Naples, in all its paradox of baroque extravagance and squalor. At the center of the action is Jenny, young, pretty, and unawakened, who has come to Naples from London in flight from a somber drama, unaware that an even larger drama awaits her there. She has been given an introduction to a native of the city and one day she idly follows it up. This is her leap through the looking glass, into the world of Gioconda, a gifted Neapolitan beauty with tragedy in her past, and her Roman lover, the film director Gianni. Gradually Jenny is caught up with them in a pattern of intrigue and passion. Under Vesuvius, their lives merge, and finally tear apart.
Shirley Hazzard has an extraordinary talent for conveying states of mind and tones of voice. As readers of her earlier books will remember, no nuance escapes her in her telling of the larger tale, and this absorbing and entertaining novel is a triumphant blend of narrative and evocation.
Shirley Hazzard was born in Sydney, Australia, and went to school there. She has lived in Hong Kong, and in New Zea land, Italy and the United States. For ten years she worked at the United Nations, but since 1962 she has devoted full time to writing. Her first book, CLIFFS OF FALL, a collection of stories, appeared in 1963. Her first novel, THE EVENING OF THE HOLIDAY, was published in 1966, followed by PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES a year later. In 1966 she received a grant in literature from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Miss Hazzard and her husband, the writer Francis Steegmuller, live in New York City.
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