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Hating (A Perfect Stranger) has sharpened some semi-metaphysical puzzlements--about free will, chance, and sex--to a dreadful focus in this chilly tale about a woman who runs away from home to a chimeric freedom. Margot Delaunay--a 40-ish teacher, wife of steady Ben, mother of two grown children--has fallen prey to fears of aging, to fears of the ""Random Chance"" which recently killed both her parents in an auto accident: she yearns for the seclusion of a benign primeval forest where ""things were better."" So off Margot goes alone to the family cabin in the breathtakingly beautiful northern Adirondacks. Nourished by memories of family summers, she disdains the company of worried family friends in the area. She nervously, tentatively, sets up housekeeping. And then a careful, gentle young man, Luc Syng, appears. . . and gains Margot's trust: they become lovers in the seemingly endless sunshine, shining lake, and glowing twilights; Margot, nurturing pale, slender Luc, floats within ""the silky, ephemeral, dangerous texture of a dream. . . she was free to do anything she wanted to do. . ."" But soon, imperceptibly, the wan young lover seems to gain in strength and insistence, and the hatchling of Margot's compassionate sexuality begins to cut some primordial teeth. Too late, old acquaintances urge her to leave--she sneers them away--and then a sinister, brutal ""friend"" of Luc's crashes out of the forest. Luc's pleas that they stay together ""forever"" become demands; Eden sours to terror--with hideous consequences in a secret ravine. Has the Great Random Chance caught up with Margot. . . or did she herself bring about her own fate? ""You used me,"" declares Luc, ""to get out of your own despair."" And Margot will never go home. With a Deliverance undertone in the use of wilderness as a symbol of slumbering menace--an effective horror tale, psychologically well-grounded, which should keep the reader close to the campfire.

Pub Date: Sept. 18th, 1981
ISBN: 0595094554
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston