By People Staff
Updated October 20, 1980 12:00 PM

by Judith Rossner

Oedipus got so upset when he found out his wife was also his mother that he poked out his eyes. No one knows how Jocasta, his mom and Mrs., felt. Now the author of Looking for Mr. Goodbar retells the Oedipus legend from a mother’s viewpoint. Her new novel, Rossner says, is based on the true story of a girl who worked in the 19th-century textile mills of Lowell, Mass. After the birth of an illegitimate son, Emmeline returns to her parents’ farm. At 34 she marries a village newcomer who says he is 26. Later Emmeline learns her husband is also her son; he flees and she is ostracized. Despite her innocence, her family, minister and community are unforgiving. Skillful as Rossner is at re-creating the world of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, her material cries out for a classical-size tragedy. Emmeline’s tale sounds only like mean-spirited gossip from an earlier time. (Simon and Schuster, $12.95)