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Hodgins, Jack.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart (A Douglas Gibson Book), 1987. 333pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-4189-6. CIP

Reviewed by Ingrid von Hausen

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

West-coast writer Hodgins, born in 1938, has novels and short-story collections to his credit. His second novel, The Resurrection of Joseph Bourne, won him the Governor General's Award in 1979.

In this marvellous novel we meet art historian, teacher and media personality Jeffrey Crane, who is living in happy retirement in Zurich. Bursting in upon his quiet, orderly life is Elizabeth Argent, energetic and still beautiful, an old love from long ago. She persuades him to venture home again to Vancouver Island to act as honorary patron of her newly created arts festival in her backwater community. What follows is a rich melange of events, characters and observations served up in Hodgins' unique, humorous style:

A terrible night! You should have seen the melodramatic Professor squirm and sweat in his bed like a Victorian hero struggling with his destiny! When a man had the luxury of a whole night in which to torture himself, the list of his crimes could be endless (p. 267).

Enriched by a sprinkling of literary and artistic references, an old mystery, a modern predicament and several set pieces (who will ever forget the nude beach scene?), this is a rich experience for seasoned readers; unfortunately, it will be much above the heads and beyond the ken of most young readers. The jacket, featuring the haunting painting Die Familie by Egon Schiele (also described in the text), reflects the more serious undercurrent of this fine novel.

Ingrid von Hausen, New Hamburg, Ont.
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