Picks and Pans Review: Afternoon of a Faun

updated 04/11/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/11/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Shelby Hearon

This is Hearon's seventh novel, and it is a delight. The first of its three sections focuses on a pampered girl in Paducah, Ky. who on her 15th birthday is told by her adoring parents that she was adopted. The story then shifts in time (15 years earlier) and place (Aspen, Colo.) to a 19-year-old man who plays the violin in a summer orchestra. He has preoccupied parents—a professor father devoted to the cause of the Basques, and a mother always out campaigning for some liberal cause or another. One day in an Aspen restaurant the young man sees a couple so "normal"-looking that he "adopts" them, becomes fascinated by their weirdness, and goes to live with them until the woman has a baby, which she gives away. The last section builds to the novel's climax at an arts camp in Bennington, Vt. The richest moment in this carefully told sequence comes when the adopted girl performs Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun. The novel's main characters are brought together for a confrontation, and then something completely unexpected—and wonderfully right—happens. This is a beautifully written book, put together the way music is composed. Most of its emphasis is on mood and feelings, with the yearnings of the young perfectly captured. (Atheneum, $12.95)

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