Picks and Pans Review: The Country

updated 11/02/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/02/1981 AT 01:00 AM EST

by David Plante

This is one of those deceptively simple, straight-forward and beautifully written novels that gets right to the heart of family, old age and death. The family is French-Canadian, settled in Providence, R.I. There is some Indian blood in the father's ancestry. The parents are moving into senility, and the story is told by one of their seven sons, a writer who lives in London. (In fact, Plante himself is an American living in London.) The book is an account of his visits home, observations of his parents' deterioration and of attempts to find something in common with his brothers. The details of aging are piteously recounted. The last visit is to attend the father's funeral. The place of religion—an integral, unquestioned part of these people's lives—is handled deftly. And the story's ending is beautiful enough to more than make up for the painful account of growing old and dying that makes the book troublesome—and a work of art. (Atheneum, $9.95)

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