Monday, September 5, 2016

"Invincible Summer," by Alice Adams

It is strange for me to write about a novel by an Alice Adams, when the Alice Adams isn’t the gifted one I have read for so many years. That first Alice Adams was a San Francisco writer, now no longer with us, who wrote sparkling and astute fiction about women who were generally prosperous, liberal, and artistic. The Alice Adams whose novel “Invincible Summer” (Little, Brown, 2016) I have just read is half Australian, lives in England, and is writing now, unlike the earlier Alice Adams, who wrote her many novels and short story collections (and published often in The New Yorker) mainly in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. But after I made the transition to the “new” Alice Adams, I quite enjoyed this novel about four friends in England, a novel that follows them from their college years in the early 1990s until they are in their early forties in 2015. The post-college years of Eva, Benedict, Sylvie, and Lucien (Sylvie’s brother) diverge, and sometimes they grow apart for years at a time, but they always reconnect. There are romances, marriages, children, good jobs and not-so-good jobs, wealth and poverty, drugs and music, deaths of family members, and all the other things that can and do happen to young people growing into the adulthood of “real life.” This aspect of the story reminds me of the novel I posted about on 8/23/16 that concerned itself with a similar theme -- young people's facing the fact of actual adulthood and all that that condition brings with it -- although in New York City in that case. It is of course an eternal theme, but perhaps experienced more self-consciously in recent decades. My favorite part about the book is the part that is always my favorite: the relationships among friends and family members, and all their twists and turns.
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