Books: Star-Crossed

THE TRANSIT OF VENUS by Shirley Hazzard Viking; 337 pages; $11.95 " Venus can blot out the sun," the heroine of The Transit of Venus cries out, racked by her unremitting passion for a man who repeatedly abandons her. Astronomically, the observation is inaccurate. Still, there can be no doubt that Shirley Hazzard's Venus has eclipsed other recent efforts to illuminate the unending agonies of obsessive love. "The tragedy is not that love doesn't last," says another of the novel's sufferers. "The tragedy is the love that lasts."

Venus has the oddly elusive flavor...

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