Coming of age amid a family of difficult, unlovable souls is the subject of this British import; and while the effort, a...

READ REVIEW

THE HAUNTING OF WILLOW DASSET

Coming of age amid a family of difficult, unlovable souls is the subject of this British import; and while the effort, a first for Rowntree, is intelligent, it's ultimately undone by the author's lack of a tight focus. Ten-year-old Sally Robinson provides us with an entreÉ into the world of Willow Dasset, a farm near Stratford owned by Sally's prepossessing grandfather, George Ludbury. Periodically during her childhood she's brought to this warm, comfortable place to help with the harvest or celebrate Christmas; there the wizened old farmhands take her for rides on the tractor, or she pays a call on her three spinster great-aunts at the Grange--a batty bunch, in constant competition for their niece's attention. But as Sally grows up, the idyll rots. Sally's mum, Meg, rejected sexually by her husband, takes her frustration out on her handsomely prepubescent daughter, then blithely commences an affair, which Sally learns of. At Willow Dasset, one by one the aunts pass away--which seems to sadden no one. Finally, in her first year at the university, Sally gets pregnant and chooses to stay with her kind Uncle Jim until she delivers, which sends her mother into a tizzy--""What would the Ladies' Forum make of it?"" But all ends well for Sally, even after Grandpa Ludbury dies at last and she has things out with Meg, for she learns how to be happy with herself. Unfortunately, Rowntree seems to have had her head turned by the petty characters surrounding Sally--making this more a portrait of a family of uncharming eccentrics than an exploration of a girl's treacherous journey through youth.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988