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IN BRIEF

Fiction

April 04, 1993|KAREN STABINER

THE SEA OF LIGHT by Jennifer Levin (Dutton: $21; 391 pp.) . What was it the late Mr. Lennon said? Something about how life is what happens while you're making other plans? Levin has taken that notion and embroidered an achingly beautiful novel around it, the story of a group of people, their lives intertwined by coincidence and accident, who try as best they can to find sense, and meaning, in the midst of chaos. Brenna Allen is a swim coach at a second-tier university and, in essence, a widow, since Kay, her long-time lover, has just died of cancer. The most famous member of her team is Babe Delgado, known both for her Olympic-caliber breaststroke and for being one of two survivors of Angelita, a storm that drove a plane into the ocean and left her broken both physically and emotionally. From there the story branches out to Delgado's family, to other team members, to Brenna's colleagues and friends. Levin is a lyrical, disciplined writer who finds life lessons in athletic competition, whose women characters are as demanding of themselves in their private lives as they are in the pool, whose male characters are carefully drawn, sometimes comic, but never caricatures. A novel of great dignity and warmth.

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