Picks and Pans Review: World Without End

updated 06/22/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/22/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Francine du Plessix Gray

Gray's second novel (her first was the acclaimed Lovers and Tyrants in 1976) is about two women and the man they both love. Claire is a rich, intellectual and fascinating WASP. Edmund is a poor but brilliant artist of Russian stock. Sophie is Jewish and a TV newscaster. "Oh brave new world," the hero begins a letter, "this is seeing the Odysseizing of women, the Penelopizing of men." At times Gray's prose is so clotted and her characters so precious that a reader wants to rip out the pages in irritation. She begins one chapter: "One travels to the Soviet Union in 1975 with young marrieds deeply in love, California orchid-growers recovering from painful divorces, aspiring photographers eager to document every Art Nouveau building in Moscow..."—none of which is relevant. Indeed, Gray spews out so many fragmented observations they get in the way of her sensitive perceptions about relationships today. Yet this is a feminist novel valuable for its passion and originality. (Simon and Schuster, $12.95)

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