I love this novel too much to write about it. Does that sound absurd?
The action of Grace Dane Mazur’s exquisite new novel, The Garden Party, is set in a single day. Celia and Pindar Cohen, both writers, host a wedding rehearsal dinner in the garden for their son Adam, a professor poet, and his bride, Eliza Barlow. But the Cohens dread the party. Celia is a literary critic and Pindar is researching a book about Babylonian cookery; the Barlows are lawyers with whom they have nothing in common. Celia would like to put the Barlows at a separate table. She is still brooding over the seating chart and the menu as the guests arrive.
Celia muses on the subject of parties.
She loved parties, but she felt insufficient with all those lawyers coming to her house, inspecting. The floors were clean, everything glowed, but she didn’t know what they would be expecting. Did this mean they would now come over for Thanksgiving? And would she have to go to their Christmas festivities?
In the course of the day, there are many uncomfortable interactions. The Barlows do not appreciate the wild whimsicality of the Cohens’ garden. And the bride and groom, Eliza and Adam, so dread the huge wedding that Eliza’s brother, Harry, a former seminarian, offers to officiate at a private ceremony to reduce the pressure of the big day. They retreat to the attic, where the ceremony is comically interrupted; the same thing happens by the pond. Finally they succeed at the dinner table. Their most important witness is Pindar’s 91-year-old sharp, still brilliant mother, Leah, an artistic gardener with a romantic past in Paris.
As I read, I fleetingly thought of two of Virginia Woolf’s best novels, Mrs. Dalloway and Between the Acts. Mazur narrates the events of the day from multiple points-of-view and often through stream-of-consciouness. Every sentence is gorgeously crafted. And she has perfect control over a huge cast of characters. Her language really is almost Woolfian at times.
One of my favorite books of the year!
This sounds great. Virginia Woolf is officially one of my favourite authors so thank you for the recommendation. It’s always fun to discover something new.
Mazur is such an elegant writer! And she’s new to me.
Sounds very good. Can’t believe my library has it
Thank God for good libraries! I had never heard of Mazur but she’s absolutely stunning.
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Oh, no! Another must read! But what great subject matter. I hate having to socialize with people I have nothing in common with, although books can sometimes be a way to connect, that is, as long as they are readers..
Yes, this is an astonishing view of a party: we get to see inside the heads of these very different people. It’s a very short book and a fast read!
Not yet in our library system unfortunately. I shall have to have a word with the librarians.
Yes, they need to know about Mazur!
I loved her non-fiction book, HInges too. Thanks for letting me know about her novel!
Thank you for the recommendation. I don’t know her other work and must try this one.