Yielding Ice About to Melt awakens the reader to new, hidden, and forgotten perceptions. Using a prose that is pure yet intense, Richard Penna creates an enigmatic world that is at once in and yet out of our time, nudging our memory of ancient truths and shaking us into awareness of new beginnings. Thomas, a young doctor, has crossed a vast and heavily polluted river in order to live in a sparsely populated area on the edge of an impenetrable forest. An icy winter freezes the land and the river. He has found work as a factotum in a remote house inhabited entirely by women. Each woman, in her particular way, holds Thomas in thrall. He is bound to them all and his feelings for them range between a passionate, unexpressed love and a profound hatred. His refusal to accept their real and symbolic significance in his life leads him further into a state of alienation and impotent rage. A crisis occurs, a disappearance, and a death. Thomas realizes he must yield, "like ice about to melt," to the guidance of the women-emotionally, psychologically, sexually-but how is he to do this? How can he shed his own alien guise to find a vital part of his new being?
"A credible, entertaining, feminist psychological allegory narrated by a male protagonist? No easy task, but first novelist Penna's economical yet poetic prose makes it look deceptively simple." - Library Journal