THE VALDEPEÑAS by Richard Lortz


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Originally published in England as A Summer in Spain, in 1961, Lortz's whimsical novel settles down into its own little world and literally has to be floated off it at the end. The Hotel Polonaise on the imaginary Spanish island of Cordobera is owned by Mrs. Marion Carter (rich, dizzy, eccentric, a wonderful talker, not quite what she seems)--and it's occupied during this particular summer by a passel of pure types: a young psychiatrist and his wife, a spinster schoolteacher from Pennsylvania, an Italian sex-bomb actress, a writer, a painter, a Russian countess and her heartbreakingly beautiful charge--an Italian orphan boy. While all these two-dimensional creatures swim, sun, and talk--yakking like there's no tomorrow--Cordobera island itself is caking away, sinking into the sea. And when a fantastic local plant, the ValdapeÑas, flowers as it never has before--with a lurid, sexual-looking bloom--Lortz clearly is telling us that something apocalyptic is a-coming. So, indeed, the entire cast finally must flee, on rafts made of hotel furniture, all of them still yakking. Yet, arch as this sounds and frequently is, Lortz's badinage-bash is generally underplayed--and for all its copiousness, the talk isn't half-bad either as it frets about work and play and love: the Symposium made only slightly ridiculous. This, then, is strictly a hot-house flower, but the colors and voices are sometimes entertaining, the touch often deft--interesting work from a writer who has since gone on to far less wellmeaning concoctions (Lovers Living, Lovers Dead, 1977).

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
Publisher: Second Chance Press-dist. by Franklin Watts