SOULS TO KEEP by David L. Robbins


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Compelling debut fantasy, modeled in part on two famed romantic ghost movies. A CPA in his 20s gets drunk in a speedboat, accidentally kills a girl, and for his trouble receives ten years for manslaughter. After completing only four of those, Virgil’s released under a work program, and marries his boss, antiques dealer Ellen. Their happiness heats up, then cools under force of her pushiness. Missing their onetime companionship, Virgil hires an escort for a night-out-without-sex. His escort, the svelte Bea Sting, a 40-year-old former hooker, ends up shot to death before Virgil’s very eyes outside a Key West motel. After she dies, Bea is approached by a New York Yankees ghost (Babe Ruth? Lou Gehrig?) who is to guide her into the light--but she turns him down and returns to Earth to enter Ellen’s body for ever-longer periods. And so, with a veritable poetic justice, Virgil finds he’s suddenly married to the woman of his dreams. But when Ellen returns to her own overweight body after a number of blackouts, she decides to consult an analyst and rinse her brain. Virgil gradually comes to believe that Bea really is a ghost in his wife’s body—and, not wanting to lose her, he begins an “adulterous” affair. Ultimately, Virgil must choose between life with Bea and Ellen’s essential death via displacement of soul. Though the amusing plot sucks you in, and Robbins shows off stylistic burnishes in fancy prose, the story slowly degrades to the level of just entertainment, finally no more daring than Ghost or Heaven Can Wait. That Robbins can write as gauzily as an angel when he wants to is perfectly clear, even though, like F. Scott Fitzgerald with his lesser magazine stories, he heedlessly weaves merit and the meretricious into one spool of paradisial yard goods. (Film rights to Regency Films)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-101300-5
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998


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