Field of Stars: A Novel

Field of Stars: A Novel

by Alice Mattison

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Poet and short story writer Mattison ( Great Wits ) delicately and surely reveals her protagonist's interior states in a first novel with strong echoes of Marjorie Morningstar. Susan Sternfeld, raised in postwar Brooklyn by doting Jewish grandparents, is only partly aware of the strangeness of her family's living arrangments: her mother has a separate apartment upstairs and her father, whose parents she lives with, is a remote presence, remarried with a new family Susan barely knows. But as Susan grows up, marries, has a love affair and gives birth to twins, against the tumultuous background of the 1960s, the force of these early patterns emerges. Susan, whose lover calls her by her translated surname, ``star field,'' is forced to decide whether she will repeat the choices of her absent parents or consciously shape her life as her own. Mattison's prose, often quiet as a murmur, is punctuated by wit and brilliant observations, although readers may feel claustrophobic, trapped in Susan's thoughts at the expense of experiencing the other characters. Mattison's is an enormously appealing and original voice, however, and one hopes her writing will reflect greater confidence in the future. (Jan.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Susan Sternfeld is different. An only child in her Jewish family's two-apartment house in the Bronx, she lives with her grandparents rather than her mother. She graduates from high school at 16 (always the youngest in her class), marries a Catholic (the son of a former colleague who becomes her surrogate mother), and has an affair with her sister-in-law's cousin, whose translation of her name is the book's title. With a suicidal relative, a multiple birth, an enduring female friendship, and characters who are social workers to analyze it all, this could be entertaining, if not enlightening, fiction. But in her first novel, Mattison tends to describe events--rather than illustrate them--in a plodding narrative. Different though she may be, Susan is not engaging enough, and her story is like a carbonated drink left open too long with all the fizz gone.--Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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1st ed

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