THE YEAR OF THE LUCY by Anne McCaffrey


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From a successful fantasy writer (The Coelura, Killashandra) who occasionally tries her hand at mainstream romance (Stitch in Snow, 1985) but this time out trudges fatuously through a tale of a timid housewife who finally bests an overbearing mother-in-law. Mirelle Martin is a typical 50's hausfrau--good wife to Steve, a salesman; good mother to Tonia, Nick and Roman--but she does have two little oddities that, in the eyes of her mother-in-law, Marian, make her suspect: she's the illegitimate daughter of an Irish opera singer and a famous Hungarian artist, and she sculpts. Over the years, Marian has been able to turn even Steve away from Mirelle, or so Mirelle thinks. The novel opens in 1961, in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Martins have finally come to rest after years of Steve's travels. Mirelle hasn't been able to sculpt during Eisenhower's entire second Administration, but something is in the air--maybe it's John and Jackie, or maybe it's James Howell, a gallant concert pianist who miraculously turns up in Wilmington just in time to change Mirelle's flat tire. In any event, she begins to work again, turning out a bust of her beloved friend Lucy (now dead of cancer) and one of Howell himself, with whom she flirts but doesn't flutter--yet. As her life grows richer, Steve grows predictably jealous, destroying the bust of Lucy in a fit of Howell-inspired anger and even slamming Mirelle around a little. Events reach a melodramatic high pitch in a familiar scene: The Mother-in-Law's Visit. Marian swoops down upon the Martins with the glittering eye of a crow and the sneering intent of the serpent; but Mirelle finally turns on her savagely (""If you can't stop that caterwauling immediately, please go to your room"") and wins back Steve's heart--although she does give herself a brief fling with Howell, as a kind of reward. Drippy and predictable.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1986
Publisher: Tor--dist. by St. Martin's