Front cover

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Copyright

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Contents

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Part One: September

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pp. 1-51

She read with her folded arms pressed against her stomach. The warmth she created for herself there comforted her. It seemed that it was a girl’s body she was protecting this way—her own at ten or eleven, or the body of one of her daughters at that age, some not-yet- sexual girl, whom she loved. She couldn’t keep her mind steady, couldn’t quite take ...

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Part Two: November

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pp. 53-115

From the room she was painting, on the third floor, there was a glimpse of ocean at the end of the long block. The air was full of gulls, shrieking on the November wind, roosting on ledges up and down the street. ...

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Part Three: November & December

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pp. 117-174

... “Won’t that be lovely and quiet?” Mrs. Caspari said, as though quiet would be a rare treat for her. Her fine hair was snatched back any which way, half of it falling down around her face, which, though weathered, still had an aspect of youthful sweetness. In spite of her sturdiness, there was a will-o’-the-wisp, drifting quality to her, but occasionally through the sweet vagueness came a quick, pointed ...

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Part Four: Christmas Week

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pp. 175-228

Irv had agree d to pay Jo an extra ten bucks a night for being on call, from midnight to eight. She rarely had to get up to let someone in. She put the money away to pay for Nick’s teeth. ...

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Part Five: January

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pp. 229-259

At twilight, they entered the Holland Tunnel and emerged into the brightly lit, charged-up New Year’s Eve city. Soon they were out in the throngs of early Times Square celebrants, who rushed along, vivid, urgent, as though trying to flee in the waning moments of the world, before the bomb dropped at midnight on them and the pretzel and chestnut vendors, the great neon displays which loomed ...

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Part Six: Late January

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pp. 261-309

Soon enough, she was walking in the late-afternoon drizzle seaward along the empty sidewalk. The smell of the ocean was in the air, and there it was, or at least the white blankness above it, at the end of Atlantic Boulevard. And now, here was the solid old clapboard hotel, like a hundred others in seaside villages along this straight strip of northern coastline. ...

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Part Seven: January 28

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pp. 311-338

And no w the bride: flowing down the third-floor hall in an under-the-sea silvery-green garment, yards of silky material, the most bundled-up Jo had seen Wendy since she was in a snowsuit. It draped over one shoulder, fell in pleats to her feet, which were clad in silver sandals. Jo waited for her daughter at the head of the stairs, in her long midnight-blue dress (fifteen years old, worn just once, for ...

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Acknowledgments

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p. 339

I am grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for crucial financial help in finishing this book. Thanks to the friends who read for me: early (Kim Edwards, Diane Freund, Bobbie Ann Mason, Gerald Stern, and Jane Gentry Vance); early and often (Jim Hall, Sue Richards, and Judy Young); ...