STYLE AND SUBSTANCE by Judith Martin

STYLE AND SUBSTANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another ""Comedy of Manners"" from Miss Manners herself (Gilbert, 1982), but one which will disappoint fans looking for the kind of bright, airy cleverness found in her non-fiction: this is an aimless, only occasionally funny story of a television personality looking for a family. Alice Bard is a famous Washington TV correspondent and ""weekend anchor-woman"" dumped by her network because she's 46 years old and not pretty and dithery enough anymore. She pays a visit to the Greek island of Santorini to meet with her old school chum, archaeologist Ione Livanos, and then convinces Ione and her 11-year-old son, Andreas, to come back to Washington to live with her--and to sponsor a museum show of the ancient Greek frescoes Santorini is famous for. Alice hopes to regain her reputation by hosting a television special on the frescoes--which are being published with King Tut-like hoopla--and for a time all goes well. But her affair with museum curator Dr. Maximilian von Furst fizzles when he dumps her and marries Rachel Colt, head of the gigantic cosmetics finn that is sponsoring the exhibit. Meanwhile, Alice thinks lone is getting it on with lawyer Bill Spotswood, a divorcÉ whom Alice herself has her eye on. But it's all a (sadly obvious) mix-up; lone isn't really interested, so Alice ends up with the colorless Bill and his several unruly kids--the family she's been searching for all her life--and the fresco television extravaganza is successful enough for her to receive offers to do art films on an NEA grant, The bons mots are in short supply here, and Martin's portrayals of journalists and politicians are surprisingly hackneyed. As for the rest, Martin can't decide whether she wants a frothy farce or a seriocomic look at a middle-aged woman's search for love, and she ends up with too little strength in either.

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1986
Publisher: Atheneum