ESCAPE INTO LIGHT by Elizabeth Webster


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 Like Webster's Johnnie Alone (1988) and The Flight of the Swan (1990), here's another earnest, sentimental chronicle about an oppressed person who finds a new life--in this case, Tunisia is the setting for escape from darkness. When 35-year-old Caroline's mother dies (she was a tyrannical horror), Caroline has a mental breakdown trying to face the outside world--but there's a fellow sufferer in the wings who will bring about Caroline's recovery: photographer Jon Armorel, also in a psychiatric hospital since he's burdened by guilt over the death of his partner, Richard, in Lebanon--though, in fact, the death was no fault of Jon's. The two miseries pair up for work in Tunisia, Jon to photograph wildlife on a beautiful inland lake, and Caroline to record and keep notes. Both live with a veteran worker on foreign relief missions--the 50-ish Welshwoman, Ankaret-- and the young (relentlessly adorable) Arab boy, Zizi, she intends to adopt. Meanwhile, there's love all around, but Caroline and Jon are unable to show feelings for each other. Among the visitors to Ankaret's home: predatory Selina, Richard's widow; a lively French doctor; and a thief who's after Ankaret's jewels. Before the close, there'll be a kidnapping (when Caroline shows her mettle), a death, an unburdening, and finally Jon and Caroline stumble toward one another. Although this pastille dissolves even as one reads, and the French-dropping characters are un peu tiresome, the birds on Tunisia's lake are charmant.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-06964-2
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1991