When Madeline Was Young

A year into glamour girl Madeline’s marriage to Aaron Maciver, a bike accident leaves her with the faculties of a 6-year-old. Aaron soon divorces Madeline and weds the staunchly liberal Julia, and the two adopt Madeline as their de facto daughter. As remembered by Aaron’s son Mac, Julia is a tireless do-gooder so dedicated to her own idea of right that she doesn’t blush when she takes Madeline onto her lap (though readers might), or cringe when her strident opposition to the Vietnam War deepens divisions within the Maciver clan. Jane Hamilton’s beautifully written When Madeline Was Young is both an absorbing, nontraditional family portrait and a shaky meditation on American political passions.

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