DOUBLE TAKE by Eleanor Bron


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 British actress Bron debuts with a skillfully told if unsurprising tale of a seemingly perfect marriage that goes awry. Bella Provan is a talented, Vogue-profiled actress who's nevertheless a bit of a prude and, at almost 30, still a virgin; she flees the Royal Theatre Company, in fact, rather than enter into an affair with a married man. When she joins the upstart New Company, she and chronically philandering, not-quite-divorced actor/founder Donald Ballader both go against type by embarking upon a serious, passionate romance. Soon, the glittering couple are the talk of the London theater world, but, though Donald announces his wish to marry Bella, his estranged wife Claire won't grant him a divorce. When Bella becomes pregnant, however, Claire finally relents. It's only after Bella and Donald are married that everything starts to go wrong: Bella has a miscarriage and is disturbed by the relief she feels following the event. Meanwhile, the couple's acting careers take them in separate directions; Bella grows obsessively jealous and throws elaborate dinner parties as a way of distracting herself and monitoring her husband's relationships with female friends. As the two become ever more estranged, Donald heads to France on tour and is entranced by a beautiful Parisian whose attentions he nobly resists; returning to England, he instead winds up having a foolish one-night stand with a good friend of Bella's--with predictable results. Gracefully written, with a knowing view of the London theater. But it's never quite clear why this quiet story is being told, and the characters' motivations are often maddeningly difficult to fathom.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-297-81765-5
Page count: 312pp
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1997