A Hole in the Water by Mae Briskin

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MAE BRISKIN’s work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, was syndicated in newspapers by the PEN Syndicated Fiction Project, and was broadcast in Europe over Voice of America. The first of her two previous books, A Boy Like Astrid’s Mother, a collection of stories (1988, W.W. Norton), won the PEN/American West Award for short fiction. Her novel, The Tree Still Stands (1991, Norton), was a finalist for the fiction award. Born in New York City, she now lives in Palo Alto, California.

Mae Briskin

A Hole in the Water

JACKET NOTES:  Anne, for decades a housewife, is now an author and host of a minor cable talk-show dealing mainly with local issues. She's sixty-seven, and has a daughter, Susan, who at age sixteen ran away from home. In the fourteen years since then, Anne and her late husband searched wherever the girl was traced to and, in Florence, met Vincenzo, who helped in the search and to whom Anne was greatly attracted.
By now, Anne has more or less convinced herself she's lost all hope of finding Susan, but she's going to Florence again, this time to see Vincenzo, who has written and wants her to come. Still, she's drawn to girls who might have been her daughter--the teenage self-mutilator soon to be on her show at home, the hotel reception clerk who's always kind and attentive to her, the homeless, spaced-out girl who lives in the piazza by the hotel.
As for Vincenzo, there's a problem: he's married. And another problem: he becomes stubbornly possessive. Anne, who all her life has been "nice," subordinate to others, must reevaluate that life--the received morality, her daughter's place in her life, the worth of the work through which she believes she's "making a difference," and much more.
This is a conflicted, imperfect woman facing difficult choices, knowing that choices are made on the basis of limited knowledge, but making the choices nevertheless, reclaiming the right to decide for herself.
(© John Daniel & Company)