[This] is what it is like to read "Winter Journey": It is the mid-1950's, and your assigned college roommate (if you're male) or your weekend blind date (if you're female), who at first has been enormously attractive; polite and even shy, but slightly intimidating in his restrained knowledgeability, decides you are sensitive and trustworthy, and for the rest of the night, over several cups of coffee, tells you his life story richly, seriously and intimately.
It is the story of Carey Mitchell, a teen-age Philadelphia boy whose mother leaves his father, who had a subtle problem with the students at the Main Line women's college where he teaches drama—it's not just steamy fantasy and it's not just cold lechery, but an intelligently depicted combination of the two. The mother takes the boy with her to her new job as a secretary in the American Embassy in Rome. The boy is reluctant to leave behind his piano teacher, who has serious hopes for his musical career, and his first girlfriend, who has just granted him an imcomplete but electrifying encounter with sex.
Suddenly he is in Rome, knowing no one but his mother. He is overwhelmed by grandeur, squalor, grotesqueries; by a new language, a new school; by worry about his abandoned father and anxious mother. As the year progresses, the problems do not diminish but instead become more elaborate. (p. 14)
There are two reasons why the effect of the novel is...
(The entire section is 506 words.)