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LIMESTONE AND CLAY by Lesley Glaister


by Lesley Glaister

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-689-12199-7
Publisher: Atheneum

This English author has dealt before (Digging to Australia, 1993, etc.) with the creepy stuff that can issue forth from ``ordinariness,'' a disarming quality often buffeted by her grotesque-to-cheerful eccentrics ballooning over a modest landscape. Here a jangle-nerved young married couple cook their respective obsessions to a nightmare boil. Nadia is a potter and sculptor; her husband, handsome Simon, is a teacher of geography and a caver—discovering new worlds beneath the surface of the earth is his passion. His latest project is to locate a joining of two caves, a project in which his friend Roland lost his life. Nadia is obsessed with another interior mystery—why can she not successfully conceive a child? One rainy night, both Nadia and Simon are drawn separately to potential disaster. Simon, minus caving mates, descends below. Nadia, in a white rage at learning that Simon acted as donor to his former lover, who has conceived his child, takes off to an inn where she is asked to babysit an infant. In a drunken fancy, Nadia absorbs the child as her own, while below, Simon, in the dark (Nadia had taken his batteries, not knowing his destination), approaches terror—and a horrible vision. Offstage monitor of disaster is Nadia's neighbor Iris, with her ``cheerful doughy face'' and an obese husband with a beard clogged with food. Iris calls Nadia ``ducks'' and her crow pet ``Darling.'' Iris—a Glaister trademark eccentric—tells tea leaves, even cornflakes. Like Darling's caw, Iris alerts Nadia to danger. In the end Simon and Nadia, spirits shriveled, make their tired decision at the mouth of Simon's cave. Although one tires of the details about Nadia's plumbing, and Simon is a bit of an ass, still there's no denying Glaister's ability to pull terror and suspense from just about anywhere, including a truly scary hole in the ground.