|The World Below by: Sue Miller
The World Below
By: Sue Miller
Alfred Knopf 2002, $25.00 275 pages
Sue Miller takes us through the lives of three generations of a family with all the pain and pleasure that are theirs. She has a rare ability to describe situations that we all know personally and rarely see in print. She tells well the hurt, that well meaning family members, can inflict on one another. And the pain that malice as well as misunderstanding brings.
Her portrayal of the speakers mother in her battle against TB; before we had wonder drugs, and in the days when the health authorities had the power and the courage to realize that diseases that were in fact communicable should be quarantined. That might ought to have been the case of AIDS but the politics of our age would not allow it though we still can quarantine someone with TB, if they will not take their medicine.
We explore that way that morals and attitudes toward family, failings and willful and destructive behavior have changed from the last quarter of the 1900s to the present. The teller of the story does a good job except when she gets so buried in her own feelings. She is a California modern, two failed marriages and kids, who comes back to Vermont to see if she wants to live n the house that her grandmother owed. In discovering the diaries or the proceeding generation she is forced to look afresh at relationships she thought she understood, Her relationship with the older widower who teaches her to write sports for the local paper raises hope that the rest of her life may be better than it has been so far.