KNIGHTS AND DRAGONS by Elizabeth Spencer
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The author of Light on the Piazzagain chooses Italy as a locale in this quite exquisitely styled story of an American woman in Rome, in the U.S. cultural office, who comes to terms with her identity in the labyrinthian ways of an old culture. Mrs. Spencer's work reminds one of Henry James in its concern with Americans transplanted to an old world of old houses and old secrets. Hovering in the background is the specter of Gordon Ingram, Martha Ingram's divorced husband -- ""thinker, teacher, scholar, writer, financial expert and heaven knows what else."" Separated by an ocean, Martha and Gordon nevertheless communicate their trouble through cryptic messages, a visit from a lawyer, and ""friends of Gordon"" who appear like avenging wraiths. But it is in her affair with Jim Wilbourne, arriving clipped, neat and orderly from America, that Martha faces her real estrangement from a husband who had molded her for him alone. In the eventual loss of Jim, because of this, and the death of Gordon, Martha finds freedom and is now ""a friend to any landscape."" The drama is interior, difficult, subtle and the craftmanship superb.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1965
Publisher: McGraw-Hill