Set in Athens, Ga., and centering on a serene cemetery with its suggestions of sorrow, loss and redemption, Williams's ( The Heart of a Distant Forest ) latest novel is evocative of place and beautifully written, but is marred by sentimentality. Daniel Mitchell is a simple young man, not retarded yet not ``normal''; raised in a ``home,'' he is now living on his own and working in the cemetery. Rebecca Gentry, a recently divorced poet, teaches at the university. Blocked in her efforts to write the biography of a local poet who had killed himself years ago, she is sad to the point of despair. Walking in the cemetery, she meets Daniel and is greatly moved by his innocence. The two become friends, and gradually their lives intertwine, Daniel stepping into the real world, with its heartbreak, and Rebecca emerging from her depression. Parallel plots follow Rebecca, as she discovers the reclusive former lover of the poet and resumes work on the biography, and Daniel, as he goes through the pain of acknowledging a horrifying past. Williams, also a poet, writes lyrically, but his characters, while memorable, serve the author's themes too readily. (May)
Childhood witness to his father's murdering his mother's lover, 28-year-old Daniel Mitchell has avoided terrible memories by remaining willfully childlike, apparently retarded. His innocence and affectionateness prompt his new friend Rebecca Gentry, a recently divorced university professor of English, to question her values and more easily to understand the life of Lawrence Dale, a poet-suicide on whom she has long been preparing a book. In a lyric style perhaps too rich in questionably relevant detail, Williams's novel, set in Georgia, explores the values and hazards of innocence and the redeeming virtues of different types of love.-- Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.