Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyStealing a march on Dante, Anna Nolan fixes her heart on Will Westenburg in third grade and stands fast thereafter. Although this overlong novel is packed with characters, from Grandma Mamie Nolan, who sings loud but true, to Patty, Anna's precocious stepsister, and although nubile Anna is courted by many beaux, charismatic Will is at the center of the action. This is not always credible, since Will is an alcoholic, ambitionless and underachieving, has impregnated Anna's best friend, who kills herself rather than have an abortion, and disappears after high-school graduation with an older woman whose money and guile persuade him to marry her. Anna meantime studies voice, becomes a nightclub singer and marries her bass player, a thoughtful, attractive, responsible man, who cannot communicate with Anna, since her antennae are trained on Will. He in fact takes over a section of the novel to describe his struggles with drink, his wife's decision to divorce him and his return home, where he encounters Anna again. The foreknowledge of Anna's certain reunion with her lover and its spine-tingling postponements provides tension, diminished somewhat by the crowded canvas and the profusion of episodes. But Florey (Real Life) succeeds in making this story of obsessive love a very appealing tale. (September 30)
Library JournalAnna Nolan fell in love with Will Westenberg in third grade in Syracuse in the 1950s. And Anna never stopped loving Willthrough her mother's death, Will's high school romance with her best friend Martha, Martha's death (an accident or suicide?), a tender coupling on graduation night, then seven years of the briefest of encounters. Besides Will, only music matters to Anna, and her promising voice brings her modest success as a club singer, while Will, always a poor loner, deals with alcoholism and divorce. So reality intrudes on romanceboth Anna and Will realize, in separate, startling incidents, that the other has lived a separate unknown lifebut music enriches it, as song lyrics threaded through the narrative provide recurring themes and memories. Florey's fifth novel is real, warm, and wonderfully appealing. Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
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