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Susanna Moore displays a naturalist's eye for the landscape of her native Hawaii and an uncanny sensitivity to the despairing love between mothers and daughters. Lily Shields grows up amid the heady atmosphere of her mother's madness. For if Anna Shields is an island unto herself - fragile, glamorous, and fearfully needy - Lily is the bridge that connects her to reality. But now Lily is a young woman and a mother herself, self exiled from Hawaii but still attached to Anna's tragedy. And as she tries to untangle those threads of love and loyalty, Moore gives us a novel of shimmering beauty and sadness. "My Old Sweetheart" is a small classic, perfectly formed and mysteriously wise.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099289852
ISBN-10: 0099289857
Format: Paperback
(199mm x 128mm x 15mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 1-Jul-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » Shimmering with a siren resonance, this sleek, arresting first novel - set in the lush, pristine landscape of 1950s Hawaii - explores the fantastic depths of a woman's obsession with her lost, all-too-vividly remembered mother. As a child, Lily adores mother Anna - as does everyone else in the Big House in Hawaii: young siblings Jack and Jessie; Tosi, Lily's Japanese "twin" of mysterious origins (born of a dead mother in Hiroshima, rescued by Lily's doctor-father Sheridan); the servants. But everyone also knows that Anna, a Catholic ex-nurse from a Philadelphia tenement, is "a woman in enormous trouble" - who takes pills, tells lies, and centers her life in a fierce passion for husband Sheridan, a cool aesthete "not overly concerned with the rightness or wrongness of what people did." And since Sheridan prefers the unstudied, ingenuous attractions of native-girl Christmas, the children - especially Lily, Anna's "Old Sweetheart" - are bewildered, fearful witnesses to Anna's cycles: her sensuous extravagance (a ball cape made of hundreds of white gardenias); her wicked hilarity (a Halloween heist of a stolid neighbor's silver); and her zig-zag, darting flights toward extinction - via drugs (Lily learns to use the syringe), a mental hospital, and eventual suicide. But Anna's death does not mean the end of Anna for Lily: she keeps searching for her. First, on the verge of adolescence, Lily - sensing Anna-like doom at the magic door of femaleness-feels herself, in fantasy, expanding like Alice to a great terrifying height, tinkling the ballroom chandeliers. And much later, still obsessed, Lily will learn to free herself and her own daughter from possession: with Tosi, she goes on a nightmare-search for father Sheridan in Cambodia, is able to forgive him . . . and can then turn to a true, vital, un-phantomed love. With luxurious imagery and prose that sparkles and snaps like sea grass: one of the year's most alluring, impressive fiction debuts. (Kirkus Reviews)


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