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PERFECTLY PURE AND GOOD by Frances Fyfield

PERFECTLY PURE AND GOOD

By Frances Fyfield

Pub Date: April 4th, 1994
ISBN: 0-679-42665-5
Publisher: Pantheon

 Fyfield continues her assault on the English Gothic (Shadow Play, 1993, etc.; see also Half Light, as Frances Hegarty, 1993) in this tale of Sarah Fortune, unassuming solicitor dispatched to the Norfolk village of Merton on Sea to help the fractious Pardoes divide the spoils of Henry Pardoe's estate. As capable Sarah nestles awkwardly into a family that includes Henry's placidly senile widow, Jennifer (``Mouse''), and his children Julian (an embittered physician), Edward (a realtor who won't grow up), and Joanna (a kid sister trapped at home), Sarah recalls her uneasy involvement with their abusive, late neighbor Charles Tysall, whose wife, Elisabeth (like Sarah, a redhead Charles had become obsessed with), killed herself to escape him, and who followed her into sucide shortly thereafter. The sense of menace is compounded by rumors of a violent white- haired ghost prowling the coastline, but despite the unforgettable tableaux Fyfield's readers have come to expect--especially Sarah's breakthough scenes with Julian, Mouse, and a battered local boy--the persistent echoes of Robert Browning's ``Porphyria's Lover'' never ignite this doomy tale.