Books: The Hells of Ivy

A HERITAGE AND ITS HISTORY (249 pp.)—Ivy Compton-Burnett—Simon & Schuster ($3.75).

The only remedy for life is death. All truth is raw. All faith is blind. Change is inevitable, yet insufferable. Freedom of choice never includes the choice to be free. Love, marriage and the family are heaven's gifts in hell's wrappings.

Out of such paradoxes, Britain's Ivy Compton-Burnett has raised a resigned hymn to fate. Her 16 fictional comedies resemble nothing so much as tragedy. A spinster just this side of 70, Novelist Compton-Burnett is a literary cross between Grandma Moses and a...

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