Picks and Pans Review: October Blood
By Francine du Plessix Gray
Edgy and occasionally quite elegant, this novel is about two women who write and edit a successful fashion magazine called Best. They say things like, "I just received the most divine post card from Molyneux dated Calcutta saying delicious day, perfect weather and not a dead person in sight." One woman has a son and the other a daughter. Husbands disappear early on, and the two sets of mother and child plus a sweet travel writer become a kind of extended family. The daughter, Paula, wants to be an actress, and she thinks things like, "Mother's mind had often reminded me of some beautiful unfinished town in which gazebos stand gaping in the middle of empty squares, houses thrust flowered, half-built terraces onto the street." The superficial world where fashion is paramount drives Paula insane, but she is saved when she marries an ex-minister. The early parts of the book are funny in a scalding, unpleasant way, yet Gray, the author of World Without End and Lovers and Tyrants, is an original, interesting writer. The prose becomes deliriously tedious before the funeral that ends the book, but it's worth sticking with all the way through. Gray knows a lot about how one rarefied group of today's people live and what's important to them. (Simon and Schuster, $16.95)
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