Picks and Pans Review: Fay Mcleod Is a Folklorist

updated 08/07/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/07/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

whose life's work and passion center on mermaids. Tom Avery is a late-night radio talk show host on a Winnipeg station. The two live just across the street from each other, one of Tom's three ex-wives was briefly married to Fay's current beau, her parents are chummy with the parents of yet another of Tom's ex-wives, and Tom's godchild is close to Fay's two nephews. So why have they never heard of each other? The chronicling of Tom and Fay's parallel lives, their love-at-first-sight romance and the nasty intrusion of reality are the stuff of this intoxicating novel, published in 1992, by the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Stone Diaries. One waits eagerly—for almost half the book, in fact—for Fay and Tom to meet, thrills to their goofy courtship, chafes, at their difficulties, and roots for a happy outcome. To be a romantic, notes one character, "is to believe anything can happen to us." It's the exhilarating achievement of The Republic of Love to make believers of us all. (Penguin, $10.95)

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