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THE GLASS LAKE by Maeve Binchy


by Maeve Binchy

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1995
ISBN: 0-385-31354-3
Publisher: Delacorte

 Binchy (The Copper Beach, 1992, etc.) once again chronicles friends and neighbors in village and town, but here she elongates her tale into a 592-page taffy pull. It's all about a woman who deserts husband and children for a handsome lover, is dead to her family and village, but blossoms in the big city and touches her daughter's life. The McMahon household--kind, dull pharmacist Martin; daughter Kit; and son Emmett--are mourning wife and mother Helen. Dreamy, restless, fond of long walks, Helen apparently drowned in the local lake. But in fact she fled to London with blindingly handsome Louis Gray, ``the man she thought of...every time Martin made love to her.'' (Louis's bolt years before to marry a rich woman was, he said, ``a mistake.'') Helen, now ``Lena,'' pregnant by Louis (there will be a miscarriage), left a letter for Martin telling all. But young Kit, fearing that Mother might be a suicide and therefore not rate a church burial, burns the letter unread. In London, Lena makes a smashing success of a small employment agency, doing Good Works along the way. Louis is climbing in the hotel biz, but his philandering glands are humming again. Kit, a high schooler, is puzzled and pleased one day to have a letter from Lena, a self- styled ``friend of Helen,'' and a pen-palship develops. Will she ever know The Truth? Years pass, there are marriages and young love problems, and an old love sours. In the village the young folks fix up a moldering hotel for a grand ball. On the night of the ball, hidden in shadows--yup, you guessed it. The only genuinely touching tale here is that of a hermit nun who listens, as others can't, to the still, small voice of compassion. Top-heavy with coincidence, improbables, and sentiment. (Author tour)