ALTHEA by Grace Zaring Stone


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From The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1931) and Escape (under the Ethel Vance pseudonym) to the more recent psychological novels seems a long road. The current book comes closer in feel to The Grotto (1951) which dealt with a phase of abnormal psychology as does this book. For Althea, exquisite, magnetic, wearing a martyr's crown with convincing grace, has been completely paralyzed by emotional shock- and is reluctant to accept recovery and a normal life. Her fascination for those responsible for her, - an aunt who blames herself for the original disaster, a cousin who knows the truth- and is alone in knowing it- is hard for the reader to accept. But when one sees a New York surgeon, who has come to a village on the Connecticut coast to ward off a recurrent heart condition, falling reluctantly under the spell, one feels like shouting a warning. Probably the author did not intend this; if such is the case, her major premise fails to materialize. There is a growing sense of horror as Dr. Ogilvie is given the pieces of the puzzle, -- by the aunt, by Althea herself, and finally by the cousin, ridden by a hate-love complex. And in attempting to release them from the guilt that is destroying them, Dr. Ogilvie produces the ultimate disaster. The introduction of the worm of prejudice provides the clue- but the solution does not lie within the province of the book. Thoroughly readable- a fine bit of craftsmanship- but a story that leaves the reader with a growing sense of dissatisfaction.

Pub Date: Aug. 29th, 1962
Publisher: Harper