When "an active grief suddenly yawns open for no good reason in the middle of her life," Anna Bell-Shay finds herself inexorably drawn to Alec Baxter, a celebrated architect. Both are transplanted Easterners in a form of exile in Berkeley, an enclave they find something less than paradise. Alec - intense, intellectual, Jewish, an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis I. Kahn - advocates the beauty of orderly buildings as ardently as he upholds the structure of his marriage. Anna is a poet, self-effacing and calm, devoted to the elegance of language. Against a backdrop of California's signature disasters - earthquakes, floods, urban wildfire - Alec and Anna explore an unexpected, extramarital physical passion with a recklessness that threatens the balance of their carefully constructed lives.
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May 09, 2001
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