Cynthia Propper Seton LORALEE MacPIKE - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In the opening two paragraphs of [A Private Life], Seton demolishes Paris to the emotional level of a midwestern village after a Fourth of July celebration. This is but the first of a tour-de-force series of remarkable stylistic feats that will leave the sensitive reader laughing and gasping and seeing the world anew. Seton is at once dry and lush, as spare as a Vogue model yet as precise as a neurosurgeon. Her pithiness extends from style to structure as she weaves a story that keeps veering maddeningly away from what all the characters assume to be The Point and ends up more satisfactorily than either the reader or the characters themselves could have dreamed. And all this is less than 200 pages!…

By itself, this story would be charming but slight. Couched in Seton's inimitably delightful style, it is a real treat. No soapboxes. No raised fists. Just likeable women unraveling their unexpected lives. Now I must go back and read Seton's other novels; she is, as one critic has said, truly "a rare find."

Loralee MacPike, in a review of "A Private Life," in West Coast Review of Books (copyright 1982 by Rapport Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. 8, No. 3, May, 1982, p. 28.