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A CLEAR BLUE SKY by Barbara Whitnell

A CLEAR BLUE SKY

By Barbara Whitnell

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1996
ISBN: 0-312-13945-4
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

 In her eighth novel (The View from the Summerhouse, p. 104, etc.), the popular Whitnell returns once more to Cornwall, where an averted disaster helps two families learn to appreciate what they have in each other. Kate Sheridan knows her marriage to dashing Oliver isn't working, she's just not sure why. With eldest daughter Caroline away in Germany, 15-year-old Emma entering her ``difficult stage,'' and Oliver growing more distant by the day, Kate's midlife crisis prompts her to make an unusual plan. Hoping a re-creation of the idyllic summers of her youth will bring her back to her old self, Kate invites her sister, Lynn; Lynn's stodgy husband, Leo; and their three children, 13-year-old Lucy, 10-year-old Wills, and 7- year-old James, to rent a house with the Sheridans (minus Caroline) in Cornwall, where Kate and Lynn spent holidays as children. At first, the vacation seems to be working like a charm: The children are on their best behavior, Oliver is relaxed away from work, and Lynn and Leo are excellent companions. But after a few days, all hell breaks loose--when Kate learns, by virtue of a misguided phone call, that Oliver is having an affair; Leo announces to Lynn that he wants to quit his job, move the whole family to the north country, and run a home for derelict boys; and Emma and Lucy fall in with the wrong crowd. It's young James, however, who finds trouble of the life-threatening kind and gets wrapped up with a strange woman named Ruthie--who shares his love of butterflies and the natural world--and with a murder mystery a generation old. By the finale, the mystery is solved, the marriages are saved: Teamwork and true love have saved the day. Energetically written, with believable, likable characters: a clear blue winner for Whitnell fans.