The most obvious testimony to Grau’s success is the Pulitzer Prize for fiction that she received in 1965 for The Keepers of the House. Significantly enough, the same novel appeared in condensed form in Ladies’ Home Journal. Thus, one sees evidence of one of the distinguishing characteristics of much of Grau’s fiction: the ability to appeal simultaneously to two often opposed audiences, the person looking for the “good read” and the literary sophisticate. Not many contemporary writers have published stories in both McCall’s and The New Yorker. In Evidence of Love, Grau seems to have made an attempt to shed any vestige of her image as a “housewife writer” or yet another southern regionalist. While Evidence of Love is rather straightforward, even in its effective use of three overlapping narratives, it nevertheless makes few concessions to a reader looking for the conventional melodramatic staples of sex or violence. Evidence of Love also silences the critics who, after the disappointment of The Condor Passes, sought to dismiss Grau as a one-novel writer. The one recurring criticism of Grau’s later work—that her characters seem bloodless—seems less relevant after the success of other novelists with similar ironic visions—Joan Didion, for example.
As is true of all but a handful of contemporary writers, Grau’s achievement cannot yet be fully measured. Evidence of Love suggests that she has shifted her emphasis away from the engaging plot to the creation of a cool, ironic vision of psychological intensity. While Roadwalkers contains all the ironic vision of Grau’s earlier novels and emphasizes the psychological, it represents another technical feat for Grau in a reemphasis on and experimentation with plot. Here Grau interweaves the impressionistic tale of Mary Woods with the separate histories of Charles Tucker and Rita Landry but ends the novel with the rather straightforwardnarrative of Nanda Woods. In the process, she has kept those elements of style—the brilliant sensory images, the directness of language, the complex heroines—that have given vitality to all her work.