MEMORY AND DESIRE by Justine Harlowe


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Studded with silky fêtes and finery in exotic places (Katmandu, Sidi Bou Said, Santa Eulalia, the Florentian hills, Venice and, er, Baltimore), this episodic tale of raddled romance sleazes through three generations (1930s-1973) and countless sexual preferences. Through floaty flashbacks, we learn of the courtship between London-based Princess Anna Oublensky and Caribbean planter Francis Emerson in the 1930s. But it's their daughter Natasha (""ravishing. . . . Her figure was crowned by fabulous Titian hair"") whose complex love life receives the most attention. Raised on the Santa Eulalia plantation, Natasha adores black playmate Adam--but after they nearly kill a snotty English guest, she is sent abroad. . . to be deflowered by a cad in Venice. Then there's: Natasha's marriage to Sir Anthony de Vernay; her discovery that Sir A. has been the lover of young American Jonathan; her affair with an Italian filmmaker; and finally, the return to true love Adam. Meanwhile, the above-mentioned Jonathan--divinely beautiful son of a Baltimore mulatto woman and a Princeton grad who died at Pearl Harbor--romps through the homosexual high-life of Rome, winding up as an AC/DC callboy (S/M too); but after Jonathan learns of his parentage, gaining respect and a legacy, he pursues an art career in Greece. . . and just happens to fall for Jennie, daughter of Natasha and Sir Anthony. So, when they marry and go home to meet the folks, Anthony starts twirling a gun and Jennie learns all: ""she slumped into the chair like a bird slain in flight."" Swampy romance, mined for titillation, gilded with a fat advertising budget, but in all respects inferior to the somewhat similar Lace (above).

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 1982
Publisher: Warner