Laura : Watson's previous novels, including Montana 1948 (1993), have dealt mainly with quiet desperation in the small towns of the West. Here the setting moves to the East and Midwest, and the desperation is much more verbal. The story of Paul Finley, son of a charismatic Boston book editor, begins in the 1950s, when 11-year-old Paul meets 22-year-old poet Laura Coe Pettit, his father's lover. We follow Paul through childhood and adulthood, as his parents divorce, his father dies, and he marries. Throughout it all, though, it is his obsession with Laura that drives his inner life. Watching that obsession consume Paul's soul is an agonizing process, painful yet hypnotic. When he finally attempts to act on his longing for Laura, to say yes to life for the first time, we are as embarrassed as we are inspired.