The Courts of Love

The Courts of Love

3.6 3
by Ellen Gilchrist, Mary Peiffer
     
 

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The Court of Love opens with a series of stories about Nora Jane Whittington, who, once upon a time long ago, was a runaway teenage hipple. In a famous Gilchrist story she dressed as a nun and robbed a bar in New Orleans. Now, happily married and the mother of twins, Nora Jane returns to college and finds herself faced with a series of disasters that threaten her… See more details below

Overview

The Court of Love opens with a series of stories about Nora Jane Whittington, who, once upon a time long ago, was a runaway teenage hipple. In a famous Gilchrist story she dressed as a nun and robbed a bar in New Orleans. Now, happily married and the mother of twins, Nora Jane returns to college and finds herself faced with a series of disasters that threaten her blissful life: a chance encounter between her husband and an old boyfriend, who fathered one of the twins; the assassination of a visiting writer; and a camping trip that nearly proves fatal. The resolution of these complications, aided by a mysterious visit from Leonardo da Vinci, culminates in the adaptation of two waifs, the marriage of an old friend, and the introduction of two new families into Gilchrist's galaxy of characters. The nine stories that follow, collectivity entitled "Past," explore the hazards of recapturing and reviving old affairs. Using new and familiar characters, these stories shed new light on the oldest and most powerful emotion.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The novella that occupies more than half of this satisfying volume displays many of Gilchrist's characteristics: the reappearance of characters encountered in previous works; frequent foreshadowing and flashbacks; a mix of the mundane and the miraculous; and copious literary and scientific referencesall employed in the service of an eventful story. "Nora Jane and Company" reprises the eponymous character whom we last saw giving birth to twins, in Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle. Here, the twins are now 10; Nora Jane is 29 and happily married to Freddy Harwood. As usual, all the players in a sizable cast of characters are larger than life: they live spontaneously, even recklessly; they have lots of money and spend it freely and frivolously; they are ruled by passionate emotions fueled by brilliant insights and sudden visions. In the course of the novella, Nora Jane, Freddy and the twins' godfather, journalist and film critic Neiman Gluuk, experience a terrorist assassination of one of their friends; enroll at Berkeley for graduate studies; survive an emergency in the California wilderness; and participate in a minor miracle that employs the long arm of coincidence and a cloak worn by the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci. Gilchrist's matter-of-fact prose carries a gloss of melodrama, and her characters are given to pontificating (about such matters as the fatwa against Salman Rushdie), didactic speeches (about the makeup of the universe, etc.) and outlandish behavior. Nine additional stories make up the second section. One of them centers on Nora Jane as a "very special, charismatic" child (Gilchrist is particularly good with children's and teenagers' dialogue), and all are imbued with wry humor, nostalgia for lost innocence and gratitude for the power of memory to enrich life. Gilchrist's hand is sure, her vision keen and sometimes antic, and the world she has created in 12 previous books is expanded and enhanced by these luminous tales. (Nov.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
This delightful collection of stories features the complexities of love between lovers, between friends, and between parents and children. The first section consists of related stories set in Berkeley that revolve around one of Gilchrist's recurring characters, Nora Jane Whittington, and her family and friends: her wealthy husband, Freddy, owner of an independent bookstore; their twin ten-year-old daughters; and Freddy's best friend, Nieman, a San Francisco Chronicle film critic. When Nieman marries scientist Stella, Gilchrist weaves in a poignant story about Stella's cousin, who adopts two difficult girls after losing her four-year-old daughter in the Oklahoma City bombing. A second section of unrelated stories completes the collection, including one about a young man dying of AIDS who adopts an injured dog and another about a middle-aged woman reminded of the past by a former boyfriend. Gilchrist's strength lies in her well-drawn characters, who are intelligent, complex, thoughtful, and full of good intentions. Her stories are addictive and will lead readers to her other collections, the most recent of which is Rhoda, a Life in Stories (LJ 9/1/95). Highly recommended.Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780736637015
Publisher:
Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date:
06/04/1997
Edition description:
Unabridged, 7 Cassettes

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