CLOSE TO HOME by Barbara Hall


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 In a classy soap, with overeasy characterizations redeemed by some stinging insights and pace, Hall (A Better Place, 1994) again takes on those little town blues, this time as a setting for a marriage foundering on American caste and regional divisions, and further corroded by old family secrets. Lydia, daughter of the aristo Hunts of Fairfield County, Virginia, longed for a place where ``people still thought the rain was clean and Democracy worked and God was coming.'' She marries handsome Danny Crane, sales manager for a construction company in the old, poor, isolated Virginia town of Fawley. She had trusted her heart; surely ``magic things would happen to them.'' Like an anthropologist, she observes the ritual Sunday dinner at the home of Danny's parents: taciturn father, unliberated mother, waifish brother Rex, still home, still closeted. Nearby there's Aunt Rita and her ever-live-in daughters; only scarred daughter Joyce has escaped--to work in a market. And hovering chillingly is Danny's cousin, one-legged Kyle, a one-man calamity-cluster, to whom Danny is inexplicably bound. To Lydia, though, Kyle is ``evil . . . supernatural.'' Among those others in the shadow of Kyle: Joyce, whose hard life will be released by violence and a kind of love; Kyle's woman Amanda, steadfast in her acceptance of abuse; and the town of Fawley itself, which recognizes how dangerous Kyle is but refuses to exile one of its own. Danny seems obsessed by the need to rescue Kyle, and there are reverberations from an old murder and a mutilation. With Danny's increasing withdrawal from life and challenge, Lydia begins to fear that her marriage is doomed. In the wake of three murders, fire, and Kyle's increasingly menacing presence, Lydia flees Fawley. But can she stay away? In spite of some too-snappy brushwork on the cast, Hall keeps one's interest in the tangled webs Lydia discovers.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-80981-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1997


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