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by Angela Huth

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-19370-X
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

A deceptively unassuming but eloquent take on the friendship of two women in a Scottish fishing village. Huth (Land Girls, 1996, etc.) not only explores the tensions and disagreements threatening even the best of friendships but has also created that rarest of beings: a credible —good— woman. Myrtle Duns, the plain-looking protagonist, harbors a loving heart, a forgiving disposition, and a keen mind. She and Annie Macleoud have been friends ever since kindergarten, but while Myrtle is steady, Annie, a beauty even as a child, is selfish, frivolous, and notoriously flirtatious. Despite their differences, though, the two are close and loyal friends: Myrtle appreciates Annie’s exuberance that lightens even the darkest of days, and Annie relies on Myrtle’s good sense. Now married, like all the village women, the two face the fear of death daily as they play cards and drink tea while their men are away fishing. As she waits for husband Archie’s return, Myrtle recalls the best and worst moments of their friendship: their joyous childhood pranks and the hurt when she learned that Ken Macleoud, the boy she yearned for, was in love with Annie. Later, Myrtle married Archie, a man every bit as —good— as she, and Annie, jealous, shortly married Ken—whom she didn—t love—and had a daughter, Janice, a girl the childless Myrtle loved as her own. But after Archie’s death in an accident at sea, for which Ken and Annie are indirectly responsible, the friendship begins to fray. Myrtle forgives Ken and Annie, but Annie’s subsequent behavior, her confessions of long-concealed envy, and her vituperative accusations are no help. Finally, the closeness ends when Myrtle glimpses the 14-year-old Janice trying to seduce the man she’s just beginning to love. Virtue, though, does indeed have its own reward as a new love and life await Myrtle. Wise and richly satisfying, a splendidly nuanced anatomy of a friendship.