Picks and Pans Review: The Congressman's Daughter

updated 04/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/21/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Craig Nova

The subtle tension and ominous undercurrent of violence in this novel are clearly at odds with the elegant language. The narrator is an old man who lives alone outside a small New England town. His neighbors are a wealthy man who was once a U.S. Congressman and the Congressman's daughter Alexandra. The old man has watched the girl grow into a beautiful woman, and on occasion he is a kind of confidant. Both daughter and father are willful personalities. When a pregnant Alexandra returns after running off to California, she is determined that she will have the baby. Her father wants her to "get rid of it." The book's villain is the Congressman's former assistant, a slimy young man who had to leave town for his role in a basketball point-shaving scandal. The narrator calls him a liar, but he is much worse than that. This novel is not only about a father and daughter who are unable to come to an understanding: It is also about a small New England community using its power to deal with those who refuse to conform. Nova, author of four previous novels, can be funny in the dry, laconic manner of his narrator, who says of one character, his "accent is so severe, so warped from its Groton beginnings, as to sound like a speech impediment." Nova's characters behave in puzzling ways, but he provides a consistent and highly original view of a special fictional world. (Delacorte, $16.95)

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