A Bridges of Madison County--like affair gone awry during the late Depression years. Oliver (Seventeen Times As High As the Moon, not reviewed) takes as her heroine 20-year-old Alabama housewife Callie Tatum -- ripe for the picking, although not by her redneck husband, Russell, with whom she ""does it"" every night without satisfaction. When dapper Birminghamite Clifton Wade appears in his expensive car, Callie is sexually aroused and soon fulfilled. Although she talks about the deep understanding she has with Clifton, as far as the reader can tell it's just sex -- against a wall, in a cheap motel, but mostly in the little house Russell built for her when they were first married. Callie feels no guilt or shame until events occur that suggest divine retribution: She miscarries Clifton's child, and his wife commits suicide. Callie ends the relationship, but the damage is done. Her ruined reputation leads to attempted rape, actual rape, and finally murder. The town proves itself to be parochial and mean-minded during a trial in which Callie is judged as harshly as the murderer. Even Callie's mother fails her when she advises Callie to continue her life after the trial as much as possible the way it was before. Callie's silent, unemotional father, however, surprises her by encouraging her to attempt more -- which she does. This feminist twist gives little punch to a book in which punches are scarce, despite its racy and gruesome themes. Mixing matter-of-fact with overwrought, the tone certainly doesn't help: ""The train rumbled along as confidently as a marching hymn. The familiar countryside...flew by like pieces of dreams."" Heavy on simile, light on substance, and ultimately forgettable.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994
Page Count: 176
Publisher: "Black Belt (1123 South Hull St., Montgomery, AL 36104)"