The Garden Party, a lyrical new novel by Grace Dane Mazur, is a modernist throwback of a book. In our age of realistic novels and high-concept dystopias, it is a lovely, shimmering anachronism ... The conflict here can feel reductive ... Still, as unbalanced as the conflict is, it’s beautifully rendered, all seething dislike beneath polite, desperate small talk ... The polyphony of voices in this book can overwhelm ... But Mazur’s prose is so vivid and melodic that it’s easy to let her language sweep you away. Ignore the characters, who are a little dull anyway; listen to the words, which are stunning ... a rich and lovely book.
The descriptions of the garden are lush, and Mazur (Trespass, 2002) does a fine job of evoking a summer evening as well as juggling her many characters. Give this to readers who enjoy a comedy of manners and won’t mind the leisurely pace.
Grace Dane Mazur’s The Garden Party is an obvious homage to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway ... It’s a bold move to invite comparisons with such a revered classic, and it doesn’t always work in The Garden Party’s favor, as the novel labors to contain the perspectives of a massive cast of characters ... ather than enriching the story’s texture, as Clarissa Dalloway’s memories did, though, Leah’s take us away from the party into her own world, pulling at the center of the novel and threatening to destabilize its elliptical orbit ... It is not so much that there are too many characters — and the author has provided a helpful seating chart with short descriptions of each person — but that we are invited into the consciousness of virtually every one of them ... by trying to expand a story of such compact design to contain 19 unique adult personalities (plus the fleeting perspectives of six children), Mazur has pushed those limits to the breaking point.