Picks and Pans Review: The Rest of Life

updated 08/30/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/30/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Mary Gordon

In this, her sixth work of fiction, the best-selling author of Final Payments and The Company of Women presents in three novellas the stories of three women and the unlikely love affairs that consume them.

In the title story, Paola's son, Carlo, takes her back to Turin and the secret she has held for 63 years: her rejection of her teenage lover and the suicide pact he fulfilled. The second story, "Living at Home," is a first-person narrative of a woman who has shed husbands and houses until she encounters Lauro, an Italian journalist.

"Immaculate Man" is the most piercing and successful, revealing the confidences of a middle-aged social worker and the virginal priest, Clement, she takes as her lover.

In simple, stunning prose, Gordon deftly portrays a range of human emotions. Her female protagonists step outside convention with a quietness and introspection that make for exquisite storytelling. (Viking, $22)

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