The Birthday Party.
Elvi Rhodes. 2000. Read by Ann Dover. 10 tapes. 10.5 hrs. Soundings
dist. by ISIS. 1-86042-854-1. $59.47. Vinyl; plot notes. SA
When Poppy Marsh's children insist on reuniting the family to
celebrate her 80th birthday, her modest home in southern England becomes
a setting for both tensions and a growing consonance among the members.
Her stressed-out American daughter Maria and her family play out their
conflicts while her daughter Beryl, who settled nearer her childhood
home, takes control of the kitchen. The freedoms of the modern world
shape the relationships of Poppy's grandchildren: a son is late
because of his live-in male partner's work schedule. A
granddaughter and her husband are besotted with their baby Daisy. A
young couple keeps mostly to themselves. Even as Poppy plots to find
beds for all and keep everyone fed, she flashes back to the pattern of
her life--her strong bond with her mother, her three husbands, and a
long-ago lover whose loss she still mourns. Poppy is a young 80; her
character is well drawn. Good writing combined with Dover's
skillful reading evokes Poppy's voice and helps the listener keep
track of the large cast of characters. Excellent entertainment. Edna M.
Boardman, Bismark, ND