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Over What Hill?

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At first glance, readers may feel that octogenarian Wilder's sequel to Out to Pasture and Over What Hill? is a cliché-ridden trifle aimed only at those who laugh at the oldest of jokes and enjoy hearing about the ailments of the elderly. But after three chapters with the denizens of the barely fictional Fair Acres retirement home, one begins to see why Wilder's books have been so well received. The tales, gossip and ruminations of the author's canny alter ego, Hattie McNair, not to mention her very competent light verse, subtly work their magic and draw the reader into her little world, constricted now by age. Gently entertaining, the novel brims with the sweet and sour sensation of having achieved a considerable lifespan, including the poignant knowledge of mortality. McNair continues to "eavesdrop" on her friends at the home, through such events as the purloining of a hated portrait called "Ole Pukey Face," a tale-telling fund-raiser and a contest for naming a new car. Amid all this, she finds time to get gainfully involved in the life of her very young pen pal, Amanda. Fans hoping for further tales of Wilder's Southern characters can only cross their fingers and hope that Wilder is only kidding by sub-subtitling this effort "My Last Short Novel." Editor, Marian Gordin. (Sept.)

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