"TOO MUCH, TOO YOUNG" by Caroline Bridgwood

"TOO MUCH, TOO YOUNG"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bridgwood (Trespasses, 1989) continues in the comfortable vein of one-generation family sagas with this unpretentious tale of the intertwining lives of four small-town English baby boomers--a routine wrap-up of the past three decades with all the standard equipment (rebels, yuppies, bond traders, media celebrities, liberated gays) included at no extra charge. Their backgrounds range from upper- to lower-class, their parents from dangerously oversolicitous to outright derelict, and their physical attributes run the gamut from lithe and lovely to stocky and plain--but what all four of Bridgwood's boomers have in common is a primary-school experience overshadowed by Miss Rudd, the stern overlord of their first-grade class. At school, Stephen Nobel, the shy, blond boy whose aristocratic mother likes to dress him up in girl's clothes, tries to cover for the handsome, bullying daddy's boy, Matthew Pryce-Jones, whom Stephen secretly adores; and poverty-ridden Jackie Yardley, who spends her free time cleaning up after her alcoholic mother, is unaware that middle-class tomboy Carolyn Fox hates her for her unconscious beauty and grace. The four grow up practically side by side, often unaware of one another as their fates take separate circuitous paths directed by the blind luck of parentage, money, and character. While Stephen struggles with the issue of his secret homosexuality, Matthew is tossed out of medical school for selling drugs, Jackie goes to London to begin a brilliant career in business, and Carolyn throws herself into a hip, artistic-London life that eventually leads to a role as a TV talk-show hostess. Major setbacks are in store for all the characters, however, as the 80's wind down; inevitably, all opt for some time out in their recently gentrified hometown, where they reunite to attend their elementary-school reunion, burn their old exercise books, and dance around the fire hand in hand. Meat-and-potatoes fare--satisfying, but hardly memorable.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1992
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Crown