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BRASS RING by Diane Chamberlain


by Diane Chamberlain

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017612-1
Publisher: HarperCollins

A swell women's page-turner by Chamberlain (Keeper of the Light, 1992, etc.), in which incest survivors overcome their past and proceed through pain, growth, and mystery toward a syrupy happy ending. As children, Claire and Vanessa Harte spent summers with their grandfather, who carved horses for a real carousel in his barn. Claire has only wonderful memories—in sharp contrast to Vanessa, who was raped in the carousel's green chariot and has led a different existence altogether. Thirty years later, Claire and her husband, Jon Mathias, are an enviable supercouple who head a Virginia rehabilitation foundation. Jon has been in a wheelchair since his teens; it was Claire—with her gift for seeing the silver lining in every gray cloud—who turned his life around. Driving home on a snowy night, they see a young woman poised on the edge of the Harper's Ferry bridge. Unable to save her, Claire watches her dive to her death, looking, as the street lamps shine on her snow- covered body, like a falling crystal angel. That image leads Claire to flashbacks. Her perfect world begins to crack, and she begins an affair with the suicide's brother, with whom she feels safe enough to conduct the terrifying investigation into her past. In Seattle, Vanessa has struggled through alcoholism and drug abuse to become a doctor and an activist for molested children. She has a devoted lover and finally feels strong enough to face her perpetrators. Chamberlain manages a lot of plot with great skill, strengthening her story by using devices more common to action thrillers and mysteries and by telling about carousels, adolescent medicine, and how to have sex with the disabled. Unfortunately, her denouement, in a Senate hearing room, in front of a TV camera and a congressional pedophile, becomes suddenly very pat, like a successful summer movie. Nevertheless, ripe storytelling that deserves a prominent place in the beach bag. (Literary Guild alternate selection)