Low Tide (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Low Tide presents little plot but develops a series of relationships in expressive, poetic language. The title originates in a conceit explained at the beginning of the novel. After giving a brief account of her father’s return to England when she was twelve, Jezebel notes that “when the tide goes way out, sometimes odd sea things are stranded in the sand.” Thus, she and many of the other characters are, in Jezebel’s own words, just “such creatures—landed, salt-dried, and petrified in our monstrousness.”
These exotic figures cluster around two families—the Westerns and the Chasms. Jezebel Western’s mother, Pomelia, secludes herself in her brownstone crypt, feeding off her cache of memories and delusions of the Great House at Terrebonne: a “tottering Third Empire delirium of glory-be” hunched down in front of a Louisiana mangrove swamp. She married her Englishman husband when he was foraging among the debutante parties deep in bayou country, and their New York City life soon became a series of extravagant soirees. Eventually the appeal of the extended party dies out, and after twelve years Jezebel’s father decamps in disgust at a wife who lies in a darkened room all day “in a rat’s nest of black cashmere.” It is then that Jezebel realizes “how carefully life had been arranged” and understands “that forced gaiety after all couldn’t save the day.”
With Mr. Western back in England, responsibility...
(The entire section is 1956 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1986)
Booklist. LXXXI, April 1, 1985, p. 1098.
Kirkus Reviews. LIII, February 1, 1985, p. 98.
Library Journal. CX, March 15, 1985, p. 72.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 2, 1985, p. 9.
The New York Times Book Review. XC, May 26, 1985, p. 13.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXVII, February 1, 1985, p. 350.
Times Literary Supplement. June 28, 1985, p. 733.
Vogue. CLXXV, April, 1985, p. 242.
Washington Post Book World. XV, May 12, 1985, p. 9.
(The entire section is 51 words.)