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Moore's suave, ample professionalism is the saving grace of this lightweight, rather contrived Search-for-identity novel. Jamie Mangan, 36, only a young Canadian cub reporter and poet when he first met and married film star Beatrice Abbot years ago, is left with all her considerable monies after she's killed in a car crash (along with the man she'd only recently left Jamie for). After all these years of being Mr. Beatrice Abbot, as well as a cuckold, Jamie is sorely in need of an ego-transplant. Then, on a visit home to Montreal after Beatrice's death, he finds among his father's possessions some Mangan family documents, including a photograph of James Clarence Mangan, a 19th-century Irish versifier popularly considered ""Europe's first poete maudite""--and, astoundingly, the spitting image of Jamie himself. So, newly wealthy and independent, Jamie hies himself off to Ireland in search of this new avenue of personal identity. In the little town of Dinshane, he finds Mangans aplenty, but of two separate strands: black sheep and white. It takes the rest of the book to figure out the origins of this discrepancy in behavior and outlook, ending in a revelation of incest, past gruesome injuries, and madness--pure hokum, but for the fact that Moore waltzes you so smoothly into it. Appreciate the narrative savoir-faire; enjoy even the shamelessly sentimental ending; but don't expect much grab or impact from this stylish roots-digging trifle.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1979
ISBN: 1590174488
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux