A heavier touch than Booker-winner Lively's last novel (Cleopatra's Sister, 1993) is in evidence here, as a mother watches...



A heavier touch than Booker-winner Lively's last novel (Cleopatra's Sister, 1993) is in evidence here, as a mother watches her daughter's marriage to a philanderer founder just as her own did--until summer's oppressive heat fashions a more decisive end. At World's End, her clutch of restored cottages in rural England, freelance editor Pauline has settled in for the warmer months with daughter Teresa, Teresa's writer husband Maurice, and the couple's toddler Luke. As Pauline edits a romantic fantasy complete with unicorns, Maurice, already marked as a rising star among the literati, struggles with an expos‚ about the myths concerning country life, work in which he is aided by his own editor, who visits from London on weekends with his girlfriend. Teresa is too absorbed with Luke and infatuated with Maurice to notice, but Pauline can't help but see her son-in-law's attention wander to the girlfriend--and is reminded unpleasantly of Teresa's father, an academic whose countless liaisons and callous indifference to Pauline's feelings ultimately drove them apart. Maurice begins to visit London frequently ""for research,"" and by the time Pauline chances to see him holding the other woman's hands at World's End when his wife is out of the room, even Teresa has begun to suspect. Having experienced the jealousy and welter of feelings associated with such a betrayal, Pauline wants to protect her daughter but can't speak of the matter because Teresa will not. Meanwhile, she grows increasingly hostile to Maurice, and matters come to a head when a crop-killing heat wave breaks into a colossal thunderstorm, knocking out the power and bringing Maurice to Pauline's cottage for a fateful encounter. While the denouement proves surprisingly clich‚d, emotional nuances are unerringly precise, creating a full-bodied, often elegant portrayal of a fragile family dynamic forever altered by adultery.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0060928557

Page Count: 208

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996