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Douglas Hill

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 192

I'm excited by how good Abra is. Thinking it to be yet another version of the woman-flees-to-the-woods-in-search-of-identity business, I wasn't prepared to be impressed. But Abra is tough, complex, and convincing in the emotional truth it delivers.

It's a slow-moving book, dangerously so; it tells an unspectacular story deliberately, with pauses for reflection, analysis, and revision. The narrator is in the process of coming alive, not so much from neurotic depression as from numbness. Releasing her memories is slow work; the book tingles with perceptions as the blood flows in. Abra's voice is remarkable—muted, inward, perfectly natural, responding slowly to the rhythms of the seasons and the surroundings. It's the voice of a woman who has never talked to herself.

Abra is about the relation of guilt, faith, and joy, about doing and being. It has none of the self-conscious stylistic or structural excesses of [other first novels]…. Abra merely tries to prepare some hard questions carefully, and suggest necessarily partial answers truthfully, without flinching. (p. 4)

Douglas Hill, "Fairest of the Fair" by Sheila Fischman, Dave Godfrey, Douglas Hill, and Dave Simpson, in Books in Canada, Vol. 8, No. 4, April, 1979, pp. 3-4.∗

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