THE TALL PINE POLKA by Lorna Landvik


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Landvik’s third effort (Your Oasis on Flame Lake, 1997, etc.) has an appealingly wacky frolic to it but induces groans when it strives for serious insight. The far outpost of Tall Pines, Minnesota, is a whirlwind of romance, violence, and minor characters who are downright weird. Fenny, for openers, was born to adventuring parents, who were constantly perplexed by her lack of bravado. When she was 19 (three years ago), they died in a freak accident in Belize (truck, tandem bicycle). In her grief, Fenny began to hang out at Cup O—Delight, a cafÇ owned by Lee, the red-haired and queen-sized heiress who came to Tall Pines fleeing an abusive marriage. Other locals include a Vietnam vet who vocalizes like a dog (post-traumatic stress) and a pair of art-collecting lesbians (one black, with a blond beehive; the other Swiss, with an annoying accent and a fez). While scouting locations, a Hollywood scriptwriter spies the fetching Fenny, and before you know it she’s starring in a local shoot. When Big Bill saunters into town—tall, dark, and handsome—both Lee and Fenny fall in love with him and a pas de trois ensues. Meanwhile, Pete, a humble shoemaker, is in love with Lee. Unable to tell her, he secretly makes ’shoes of love” for her. Just as he’s about to speak the truth and give her the shoes, Lee’s deranged ex-husband bursts into the Cup O—Delight and starts a shooting spree. Pete takes a bullet and dies saving Lee. The shooting disperses everyone else and brings about several ham-handed epiphanies. Eventually, Bill finds himself in a quickie wedding and the father of a love child, but not with the same woman. And Fenny learns that she’s brave after all! Happiness and chuckles all around. Not dull, even amusing at times. But with its soap-opera dialogue and just-add-water characters, it will chafe with wanting more. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-345-43317-3
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1999


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