Golden Days (Magill Book Reviews)
Edith Langley, the sharp-tongued first-person narrator of this novel, brashly declares that the account she is about to present of her friend Lorna Villanelle and herself “is the most important story in the Western world!” The reader may smile skeptically, but by the end of this novel, See’s potent combination of social satire and apocalyptic mythmaking compels the reader to feel the power of Edith’s claim.
Edith is a survivor in many senses. The early pages present vignettes of her childhood persecution by her parents, her two failed marriages, her inability to establish herself in New York City, and her desperate return to her native Los Angeles with her two dispirited daughters. After finding a run-down house in Topanga Canyon, however, Edith’s luck begins to change, and soon she is successfully promoting herself as a financial adviser and newspaper columnist. She develops a satisfying--though platonic -- relationship with Howard ’Skip’ Chandler, an ailing financier, who makes her the figurehead president of the Third Women’s Bank of Santa Monica.
Externally successful as Edith’s life has become, however, it is only when she and Skip take a trip to San Francisco that her life truly begins to soar. When Edith is sent by her newspaper to write an expose of a supposedly fraudulent self-actualization seminar, she and Skip are converted to the ecstatic positive thinking doctrines of madcap guru Lion Boyce, and Edith encounters...
(The entire section is 462 words.)
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Golden Days (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Edith Langley, the sharp-tongued first-person narrator of Golden Days, declares in its opening pages that this account of her friend Lorna Villanelle and herself “is the most important story in the Western World!” This brash assertion may provoke a skeptical smile, but by the end of this novel—Carolyn See’s fourth—the author’s potent combination of social satire and apocalyptic mythmaking compels the reader to feel the power of Edith’s claim.
Like a number of other contemporary novels and films, Golden Days dares to imagine the aftermath of worldwide nuclear war in considerable graphic detail. Whereas such works as On the Beach (novel, 1957; film, 1959), Testament (1983), and The Day After (1983) place the outbreak of such a war early in the narrative and concentrate grimly on the emotional and physical torment accompanying the event, See introduces the theme of the holocaust much more gradually and—here is the major surprise of the novel—optimistically. Ultimately, she leads the reader into a vision of a new golden age of human renewal in the scorched world of the 1990’s.
In the opening scene, Edith Langley remembers her experiences of 1980 as being part of “an entirely different world,” and as her memories move back and forth in time and a number of such bittersweet asides accumulate, it becomes increasingly clear that Edith has in fact lived through the holocaust. See...
(The entire section is 2106 words.)
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Booklist. LXXXIII, October 1, 1986, p. 190.
Chicago Tribune. November 9, 1986, XIV, p. 6.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, August 15, 1986, p. 1241.
Library Journal. CXI, September 15, 1986, p. 102.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. October 12, 1986, p. 2.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, November 30, 1986, p. 9.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXX, August 15, 1986, p. 69.
Time. CXXVIII, November 24, 1986, p. 94.
(The entire section is 44 words.)