Books: A Terrible Nudity

A SEA CHANGE by J. R. Salamanca. 501 pages. Knopf. $6.95.

"Marriage is a desperate thing," wrote the 17th century English jurist John Selden. Three centuries later, after 13 years of seeming marital bliss, the two main characters in J. R. Salamanca's superb new novel suddenly discover what complex anguish Selden had in mind.

On the surface, Michael and Margaret Pritchard are a rather ordinary childless couple. He is a shy, fairly dull curator of manuscripts at the Library of Congress, apparently content with an orderly retreat from life among the works of long dead...

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