WHITE WINGS by Dan Montague


Email this review


 Sailing, seduction, and family secrets over three generations of women keep things lively for the most part in ex-priest Montague's hefty first novel, but they fall short of providing an unqualified success. Young art teacher Matthew moves to Marblehead, Mass., looking for adventure, but is quickly in over his head when he stumbles on a wrecked wooden sailboat in a garage. It isn't for sale, but Matthew attempts to sweet-talk Taylor, its owner, and begins to research the boat's history, which, it turns out, is complex, mysterious, and romantic. Taylor tells him what she knows of the boat's unusual past: Her mother Becky sailed it from the onset of WW II until she went out in a storm in 1972 and never came back-- the boat was found wrecked on the rocks at the mouth of the harbor. With missing pieces of the family saga supplied by Becky's closest friend, Taylor and Matthew learn of Becky's marriage to a flyboy who volunteered to serve in the RAF, then, in his absence, of her attraction to an Episcopalian priest-to-be, with whom she sailed frequently. Ousted from Marblehead as too ardent a supporter of Jewish refugees, the future priest goes to the Pacific as a military chaplain, leaving Becky the boat but not knowing he's left her pregnant as well. He is captured and reported dead, while Becky's husband dies in action; she's left with a child whom she passes off as legitimate, never telling her daughter about her real father. But father and daughter's paths cross when Taylor, as a young woman, goes to live in Japan. That contact, along with all the other information Matthew and Taylor assemble, allows the pair finally to figure out how the boat came to be wrecked. Some heat but not much sizzle, along with a few nagging loose ends. Even so, an artful, pleasant read, tailor-made for the beach, where surf and salt air can provide complementary distractions.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94303-X
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1997