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The Perfect Sonya
     

The Perfect Sonya

by Beverly Lowry
 

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Actress Pauline Terry is so successful in a performance of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya that one critic calls her “the perfect Sonya.” But her life is not what she expected when she left Texas for Broadway. She swims in a fish tank in a New Jersey bar to make a living, most auditions do not result in callbacks, and her marriage is shaky.

Overview


Actress Pauline Terry is so successful in a performance of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya that one critic calls her “the perfect Sonya.” But her life is not what she expected when she left Texas for Broadway. She swims in a fish tank in a New Jersey bar to make a living, most auditions do not result in callbacks, and her marriage is shaky.

Called home by her father’s imminent death, she confronts both the past she thought she’d left behind and her uncertain future. For solace she turns to her aunt’s former husband, Will Hand, a professor and nature writer. But their affair is brief and leaves her more uncertain than ever.

Back in New York, Pauline realizes that her life onstage cannot make up for the emptiness of her life offstage. Her return to Texas was a transforming experience, leading her ultimately to come to terms with her childhood memories, her marriage, her dramatic ambitions, and finally, herself.

The Perfect Sonya, first published in 1987 by Viking Penguin, won the Jesse Jones Award for the Best Novel of 1987 from the Texas Institute of Letters.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This new novel by the author of Daddy's Girl will add to her reputation as an original, talented writer; it is not, however, an entirely successful effort. Recalled from New York to her father's deathbed in Texas, Pauline searches for a reason to grieve for him through intricately manipulated flashbacks and dreams. What begins as a casual seduction of her aunt's husband develops a disorienting intensity for her. In New York, where Pauline returns to husband and acting career (her one great triumph has been in Chekhov, prompting a theater critic to call her ``the perfect Sonya''), her emotional paralysis increases until the novel threatens to become a psychiatric case history. Pauline emerges as an unaffectedly honest and sensuous woman almost despite Lowry's unwillingness to integrate the vivid but discrete moments she painstakingly details. Pauline's return trip to visit the uncle some years later provides an unconvincingly simple resolution to the paradoxes of her character. The complex woman Lowry attempts to portray never assumes a clear synthesis. The reader might conclude that Pauline's anomie is a result of her fragmented personality, but one wants more from a novel than a do-it-yourself character analysisespecially with such an engaging heroine. (June 16p
Library Journal
Pauline is a self-absorbed sometime actress (``Sonya'' in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya ), sometime bar fish-tank swimmer, living in New York, trying to reconcile her memories of childhood in small-town Texas with her adult life. Returning to Texas for her father's final illness, Pauline is forced to confront the uncomfortable memories she thought she had ``outgrown.'' She seeks out and begins an affair with her aunt's ex-husband, a grizzled ex-professor from her college days, and gets trapped by flooding rains at his remote cabin. The trip and its disturbing effect on Pauline lead to the dissolution of her marriage and a long bout with depression. Middling contemporary fiction of the self-discovery variety, not unappealing, not altogether successful. Lowry's previous work includes Daddy's Girl ( LJ 9/15/81). Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780875652849
Publisher:
Texas Christian University Press
Publication date:
04/28/2004
Series:
Texas Tradition Series , #35
Pages:
250
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

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Meet the Author


Beverly Lowry is the author of the novels Breaking Gentle, Daddys Girl, Emma Blue, and Come Back Lolly Ray, along with the nonfiction Crossed Over and the new Her Dream of Dreams. She has published short stories, essays, and book reviews and received awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, among others. She lives in Austin.

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