Footprints

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April 05, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Shelby Hearon’s wry, seamlessly woven 14th novel Footprints traces how a long-married couple entertain some brutally honest second thoughts about each other, and what — following the accidental death of their 22-year-old daughter — having two children really meant in their lives. To the witty narrator, Nan, it meant forgoing her doctorate in paleontology for full-time motherhood, while her mild-mannered husband, Douglas, became a successful ”brain scientist” at a college in upstate New York. But to Douglas — always preoccupied with his job — children signified something deeper than he ever let on. Thanks to Hearon’s empathetic, incisive evocation of marriage’s safe but often claustrophobic bonds, Nan comes to a new understanding of her husband — and of the need to develop her own life.

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