Picks and Pans Review: The Delphinium Girl

updated 05/05/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/05/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Mark Smith

The cast of characters in this novel about contemporary New Hampshire is large. But Smith, a novelist who also teaches fiction writing at the University of New Hampshire, moves in and out of their innermost feelings with astounding ease. The woman of the title is married to a real estate man. They have two young children, and she has a vague notion that nothing has to be done immediately because she has a long life ahead of her—in short, that experience will turn her into an interesting old lady. Instead she becomes ill, and her prolonged dying becomes the event that makes the doctor, the professor, the artist and all the others in the community reassess their own lives. This beautiful, old-style novel is about people we know. At times they behave outrageously, and we laugh. But the story is also exceedingly moving, intelligent and surprising. (Harper & Row, $10.95)

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