FAULT LINES by Anne Rivers Siddons


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 Siddons' latest, her 11th (after Downtown, 1994), is surprisingly low on the melodrama scale: only a handful of syrupy passages and unconvincing scenes mar this highly entertaining, unabashedly lightweight southern saga. Merritt Fowler's dutiful suburban Georgia housewife/mother routine is due for a shake-up. Husband Pom (whose grin splits his beard ``like a knife blade through dark plush'') is a doctor more concerned with the plight of the downtrodden than with the inner workings of his own household; he's oblivious to both his own mother's terrifying descent into Alzheimer's and his anorectic daughter Glynn's adolescent miseryuntil Glynn, spurred on by paternal neglect and her grandmother's destructive behavior, runs away to aunt Laura's California condo. Laura is Merritt's younger sister, a grade-B actress/babe-about-town who left home for Hollywood as a teenager and never came backhardly a role model for the delicate Glynn. Under the guise of fetching Glynn home, Merritt heads west herself, but with the subconscious goal of getting some much-needed distance from her thoughtless husband and demanding mother-in-law. In California, Hollywood high jinks ensueLaura is enmeshed in a no-win relationship with Caleb, a hot director who promises more than he delivers; and Glynn, a younger version of her still beautiful aunt, gets offered a major role in Caleb's new movie. To escape it all, the three women flee upstate to Caleb's retreat among the redwoods, where Merritt relearns passion from caretaker T.C. Bridgewateran affair that will later give her the courage to ask for what she needs at home with Pom. It takes a high-ranker on the Richter scale, though, to set everyone straight, and a stronger Merritt, matured Glynn, and wiser Laura head back south to absorb the aftershocks togetheras a family. An impressive leap forward for Siddonsall of the requisite thrills, much less gratuitous yanking on the heartstrings. (First serial to Good Housekeeping; Literary Guild main/Doubleday selection)

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1995
ISBN: 0-06-017614-8
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1995


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