A Book of Common Prayer
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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.
Virginia,” Adele Fayard said. “Which makes your tolerance the slightest bit academic?” “I been hearing certain things about you in the Quarter,” I could hear Morgan Fayard saying as I left the dining room. “Sister.” “I understand you’ve been leaving your own visiting cards at a certain address in the Quarter,” I could hear Adele Fayard saying as I walked through the living room. “Bro.” “ ‘May the fish get legs and the cows lay eggs—If ever I cease to love—May the moon be turned to green cream
girl. “What do you suppose Marin did today,” Charlotte said one night in the car when she thought Howard Hollerith’s girl was asleep in the back seat. “Played tennis,” Warren said. “Marin played tennis today.” “Marin who?” Howard Hollerith’s girl said. “See what you’re going to leave me to,” Warren said to Charlotte. In the coffee shop of a Holiday Inn outside New Orleans one morning in May or June Charlotte read another Associated Press story in which Leonard was again quoted as saying that
telephone, and a table at which a man whom Charlotte had introduced as “Mr. Sanchez” seemed to be translating a United States Army arms manual into Spanish. Charlotte appeared oblivious. “Lighten, brighten, open it up. The perfect creamy white on the walls, maybe the palest robin’s-egg on the ceiling. And lattice. Lots of lattice. Mr. Sanchez is doing the lattice for me.” Charlotte smiled fondly at the man at the table. He did not smile back. “Aren’t you.” “Mr. Sanchez” stared at Charlotte as
singing ‘Didn’t I Ramble.’ ” Charlotte said nothing. The letter in Warren Bogart’s coat also had a message for Charlotte and Marin but Leonard did not mention the message. “He carried it in his coat. The letter.” Leonard shook his head. “He did. Didn’t he.” “He did what.” “He did ramble.” The message for Charlotte and Marin had read only “you were both wrong but it’s all the same in the end” and Leonard did not mention the message. “Not a letter really,” he said. “A note. On the back of an
meet strangers,” Bianca said. “As you know. I take no interest. Look here, the plan for the eleventh floor. If we lived up that high we’d have clear air. No fevers.” “Almost like Arizona,” Elena said. “I wonder if Gerardo knows Jacqueline de Ribes.” “Arizona,” Isabel said. “I wonder what Dr. Schiff is doing today.” Antonio fired twice at the lizard. The lizard darted away. Two porcelain wise men shattered. “Eating yoghurt in the sunset I presume,” Elena said. “Dr. Schiff doesn’t believe in