LOVE AND DUTY by Judith Henry Wall


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Wall's hard-cover debut is a long-winded paean to motherhood, set in the Lone Star State and beginning in the 30's, as three girls from a small German town come of age. Stella and Kate Behrman and their gorgeous cousin Effie, sworn friends unto death, are passing their time watching the Missouri, Kansas & Texas line hoot past the Behrman place, exchanging confidences about which boys should be permitted to touch their breasts. Blond Effie makes the break from their strict German upbringing first, by becoming a coed at the University of Texas, pledging Kappa, and, after her freshman year, marrying a wealthy law student from Dallas. The other Behrmans head for UT too, with redheaded Kate winning athletic contests of every sort, and Stella, the brunette, hitting the books, fascinated by Texas history and her prof's nephew, Charles Lasseter, who's, alas, already married. The big question for Stella and Kate becomes: Is it ""better to be married than not to be married?"" They both opt for conjugal bliss, which eludes them as the babies pile up and the book devolves into a chronicling of which Behrman cousin goes to which school, and how many times Charles can touch base with Stella before they make love. In the end, Effie's life turns out to be the happiest, though Stella wins for spousal accomplishment, with her husband's election to the Senate. Unfortunately, hair color alone isn't enough to distinguish these women as characters. Nor does it seem likely that very many readers will want to escape into this novel's world--of pablum and mashed fruit.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Viking