ANGEL HOTEL by Anne Aylor


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With a spare elegance that lives up to her publisher's comparison--with the romances of Jean Rhys--Aylor's first novel presents a passionate, gloomy story of abandoned innocence and abused love. Elkie Bonner, a young Irish girl who magestically calls herself Luz (""She read it in a romance magazine once""), meets up with the local rich boy in the fall of 1966. Drunk, Ivan seduces her, then jokingly suggests that they ""run away."" To Luz, however, the prospect is a promise; irritated when she shows up, Ivan nonetheless takes her to London. But Luz is not of his class and Ivan has his own demons--deriving from his adored father's suicide, following a confrontation with his mother about an affair with the governess. He is also coldly selfish, taking Fitzgerald as his model; Luz takes her cues from Tolstoy, particularly Anna Karenina By the summer of '68, Ivan has dropped her--but not completely, since he continues to communicate by postcard. And finally, 12 years later, an invitation comes--to meet him again, at the resort where he long ago humiliated her. The secret of the novel--and Aylor's twist to the Rhysian theme--is Ivan's own passion, articulated in the couple's final missed connection. And the violent mourning of Ivan's mother for his father (""I loved him too much; that was my crime"") comes full circle in Luz. If there's a flaw, though, it's that the book, set in the 60's, gives absolutely no evidence of 60's manners or morals; Ivan, especially, seems more suited to the 19th century. But this may be the author's point, and Aylor's recounting of obsessive love is dead on.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's