Synopses & Reviews
Writing with the telegraphic swiftness and microscopic sensitivity that have made her one of our most distinguished journalists, Joan Didion creates a shimmering novel of innocence and evil.A Book of Common Prayer is the story of two American women in the derelict Central American nation of Boca Grande. Grace Strasser-Mendana controls much of the country's wealth and knows virtually all of its secrets; Charlotte Douglas knows far too little. "Immaculate of history, innocent of politics," she has come to Boca Grande vaguely and vainly hoping to be reunited with her fugitive daughter. As imagined by Didion, her fate is at once utterly particular and fearfully emblematic of an age of conscienceless authority and unfathomable violence.
"This long-awaited and much-praised novel is similar to, but not as good as, Didion's earlier novel of ennui and despair, Play It As It Lays, Like Maria in the earlier novel, Charlotte Douglas attempts to piece her shattered life together by lying low, committing rationally irrational acts, and adopting Hemingwayan stoicism. The novel is more striking stylistically, although the ironies are too often forced, than for the story it tells. It is the story of Charlotte, whose once-proper daughter joins revolutionaries and burns a plane, destroying her mother's already tenuous understanding of the world just as she destroys the plane. The story is narrated by Grace Strasser-Mendana, friend to Charlotte, who is dying of cancer." Reviewed by Daniel Weiss, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
Joan Didion was born in California and lives in New York City. She is the author of five novels and seven previous books of nonfiction.