ONCE UPON A TIME ON THE BANKS by Cathie Pelletier

ONCE UPON A TIME ON THE BANKS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More knockabout comedy from Mattagash, Maine: Pelletier revisits this backwoods town in a not-quite-sequel to her 1986 debut, The Funeral Makers. She divides her attention between top-drawer Amy Joy and her mother Sicily, descendants of the town's Protestant Scotch-Irish founders, and the lowlife Giffords, a large tribe of malingerers and thieves. Ten years earlier, the problem was Amy Joy's involvement with a young male Gilford. Now, in 1969, she is causing her mother more grief with her impending marriage to Jean Claude Cloutier, a Catholic of French-Canadian stock; this is the novel's focal point. Up to Mattagash for the wedding come Sicily's sister Pearl and her brood: undertaker husband Marvin, his wife Thelma, son Junior, and son Randy. And hot in pursuit of them comes Junior's mistress/secretary Monique, a Liz Taylor look-alike, mad as hell that she has just been fired (Marvin has ordered Junior to clean up his act). The Giffords, always on the lookout for out-of-town victims, take time off from their own feuds (there is a knock-down, drag-out fight between two Gifford women) to strip Junior's Cadillac. Meanwhile, Jean Claude's get-acquainted meeting with Sicily turns into a disaster when he throws up on her carpet. In the event, there is no wedding: the night before, Jean Claude's brothers (as opposed to the union as Sicily) whisk him away to Connecticut. Pelletier hammers away at the mutual suspicions between Protestants and Catholics, and the fishbowl aspect of small-town life; so what else is new? Not, surely, those staples of American fiction, the Giffords, who stagger around like over-the-hill vaudevillians, while the more genteel characters cluck ""Good Lord"" and ""Sweet Jesus."" This is labored work.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Viking