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Marshall, Tom.

Toronto, Macmillan of Canada, 1987. 256pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-7715-9343-0. CIP

Reviewed by Vivienne Denton

Volume 15 Number 6
1987 November

Tom Marshall's latest novel, Adele at the End of the Day. alternates chapter by chapter between the story of Adele, aging, cantankerous, but still wittily entertaining, and that of her son, Kevin. Each story is told largely in flashbacks, so the reader eavesdrops on the thirties and forties, then on the sixties and seventies, and so on. Born in Toronto, Adele rounded out her formal education and began her informal education in the Paris of the late thirties. Trapped there by the German invasion, she was rescued by a Canadian posing as an American and acting as a secret agent, whom she married and whose wealthy widow she has become before the book opens. Kevin, born in war-time France and adopted by Adele and her husband after the war, has been educated, married and divorced in Toronto, and is living alone in New York as the book opens.

Their respective adventures are highly cosmopolitan, extremely varied sexually and emotionally, and recounted (especially in Adele's case) in a most frank and engaging manner. But there is not enough happening in the present to hold these two life histories together, and much of what does so in the past is withheld from the reader till late in the book. Suffice it to say that an ever-increasing danger to Adele, and a stubborn reluctance on Kevin's part to come to her rescue, are resolved by a crowded and exciting conclusion in which past and present and mother and son are finally brought together and reconciled.

This book is highly entertaining, its action is set in a wide range of periods and localities, and its cast includes two well-developed central characters and a host of intriguing minor ones.

Vivienne Denton, Toronto, Ont.
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