Megan Harlan
May 08, 1998 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Archivist

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Martha Cooley
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A

In engrossing, ambitious debut about love, art, and insanity, The Archivist, university archivist Matt Lane — whose poet wife committed suicide decades ago — views his library as a haven from human relationships. Though his friendship with gifted poetry grad student Roberta Spire reawakens some long-buried emotions, Matt refuses her repeated request: to read love letters composed by T.S. Eliot to friend Emily Hale during the years Eliot abandoned his mentally ill wife. Cooley brilliantly employs Eliot’s poetry and troubled biography as a window into Matt’s tragic past — and as catalysts for his final, surprising redemption. Rarely has a novel centering on the life of the mind felt so passionate. A

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