Books: Private Acts

A MARRIED MAN by Piers Paul Read Lippincott; 264 pages; $10.95

The simplest moral of this quiet, affecting novel might be: Don't Read Tolstoy. John Strickland, 40, is a successful London barrister who casually picks up The Death of Ivan Ilych during an August retreat at the home of his wife's parents. The lawyer finds himself deeply rattled by the Tolstoy hero's mounting despair, especially by the question Ilych asks himself: "Maybe I did not live as I ought to have done?" Querying himself in the same manner, Strickland realizes that he loathes...

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