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Starcarbon

Overview

With tender humor, brilliant insight, and an unmistakable narrative voice, National Book Award-winner Ellen Gilchrist returns to the celebrated Hand family and explores the world of complicated, simmering emotions, long the stuff of dreams and everlasting drama. A long, strange summer is about to begin. As tornadoes tear through America's heartland and the Soviet Union crumbles on television, Olivia de Havilland Hand finishes her first year of college and returns home to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to explore the ...
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Overview

With tender humor, brilliant insight, and an unmistakable narrative voice, National Book Award-winner Ellen Gilchrist returns to the celebrated Hand family and explores the world of complicated, simmering emotions, long the stuff of dreams and everlasting drama. A long, strange summer is about to begin. As tornadoes tear through America's heartland and the Soviet Union crumbles on television, Olivia de Havilland Hand finishes her first year of college and returns home to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to explore the mystery of her identity and her Cherokee heritage. But even in a landscape steeped in memory, beneath the maple trees that fed her oxygen as a girl or on the gravel road where she first learned to drive, Olivia is surrounded by an all-too-present tangle of lives and loves: her strong-willed but fragile sister Jessie's travails with a new baby in New Orleans; her anthropology professor's stormy affair with a fellow academic; her aunt's blossoming relationship with a poet in Boston; her lonely father's fear of losing his daughters; and her own newfound romance with her old boyfriend, Bobby Tree. In this complicated web of relationships, spread across the country, connecting past with present, each struggles to find peace and, hopefully, love. The result is a masterful work of storytelling and a brilliant contemporary romantic comedy. Out of this maelstrom of misunderstood mates, screaming babies, politically correct lovers, estranged teenagers, and overprotective fathers comes a poignant, keenly observed meditation on love.

The freshest, funniest novel in years from the author of In the Land of Dreamy Dreams. Olivia de Havilland Hand returns home to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to explore the Cherokee half of her family history. But she discovers instead an all-too present tangle of lives and loves.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gilchrist's marvelous storytelling gifts are abundantly lavished on her new novel, which continues the saga of the Hand family and its intricate network of kinfolk, who can be found scattered through Victory over Japan , Drunk with Love and The Anna Papers . Set in the summer of 1991, Starcarbon focuses on the younger generation of Hands introduced in I Cannot Get You Close Enough . Olivia, Daniel Hand's illegitimate daughter, returns to her Native American family in Tahlequah, Okla., to study Navajo and reunite with Bobby, the boyfriend she left behind when she schemed her way into her father's affluent lifestyle. Her half-sister Jessie is stuck in New Orleans with a new baby and a faltering marriage to the feckless King, the spoiled son of Daniel's distant cousin Crystal. Gilchrist skillfully makes these complicated relationships clear even to those who haven't read her earlier books by delineating sharply individualized characters. She writes with a distinctively Southern toughness about people who are selfish, demanding and often cruel to those closest to them, but who invariably gain the reader's sympathy with their total honesty and fierce need for love. Starcarbon, a ranch in Montana where Bobby worked, symbolizes the characters' longing for ``somewhere clean to be,'' free from the maddening bonds of family. Yet Gilchrist's multi-volume narrative, which grows deeper and richer with each additional book, compellingly shows how those bonds nurture as well as damage; her work offers a tart antidote to the rootlessness of so much American fiction. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Gilchrist's (I Cannot Get You Close Enough, LJ 9/15/90) story is a loosely woven tale about a charming, albeit dysfunctional, family and their relationships. Daniel, the alcoholic father--``elegant, so endlessly kind and tall and funny and lovable and powerful and tortured''--has depleted his fortune and failed in love relationships. He dearly loves his two daughters, Jessie and Olivia, but has a tough time relinquishing control and allowing them to live their lives. After her first year of college, Olivia returns to her grandparents in Oklahoma to join her boyfriend and delve into her Cherokee roots. The beautiful Jessie is living in New Orleans, struggling to raise her newborn son and save her troubled marriage. The striking thing about this novel is its characters' preoccupation with love, both familial and passionate. The characters are struggling with commitment and intimacy--and ultimately winning. Recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/93.-- Kimberly G. Allen, MCI Corporate Information Resources Ctr., Washington, D.C.
Donna Seaman
Gilchrist returns to the world of the quirky and passionate Hand family. We last heard about the Hands in "I Cannot Get You Close Enough" (1990), when Daniel, a handsome, moneyed, yet chronically lonely man, is stunned to find out that he has a second daughter, the feisty, half-Cherokee Olivia de Havilland Hand. Gilchrist picks up the story of Olivia just after she completes her first year of college. Olivia is torn between love for her father and the allure of his luxurious Charlotte digs, and the happier, more down-to-earth realm of her childhood, her maternal grandparents' home in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She also misses her high-school sweetheart, Bobby Tree, who's been working up at Starcarbon Ranch in Montana, as in love with Olivia as ever. Love, of course, is Gilchrist's theme, and she explores its radiance and obliqueness in a constellation of related couples. Olivia's sister Jessie is struggling to make her fledgling marriage work, while their aunt Helen is fighting off the guilt of having left her children and husband for a well-known poet, and a doctor turned teacher is battling an entrenched fear of intimacy that is holding up her relationship with a physicist. As Gilchrist dramatizes each couple's courtship, she ponders the riddles of how one can love another without losing oneself and how one can separate the truth about a relationship from fears of being hurt, abandoned, or betrayed. As she searches for answers among her charming, frankly lusty, and crazily alive characters, Gilchrist gives her readers moments of intense pleasure. This is a feel-good novel utterly free of pandering or sentimentalism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780840086952
  • Publisher: B&N Distribution
  • Publication date: 12/13/1995
  • Pages: 306

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