BUCKS COUNTY IDYLL by Robert J. Seidman


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Seidman starts out here with what seems like a fine setup for psychological suspense or a caper or even comedy: unwed student-style couple Nick and Stephanie win the plum job of house-sitting the art-treasure-filled Bucks County manse of an art-collecting husband-and-wife who are away in Europe; and the pretty converted farmhouse (which must be occupied at all times) is properly isolated, perfect for atmospheric chills. But the plot secrets that Seidman has come up with are predictable and paper-thin--the house-owners are actually involved in forgery and duplicity--so he fills up the molasses-paced chapters with: gothic-clichÉ hints and scares (sounds, markings, shadowy intruders); visits from flaky friends and from Stephanie's stuffy, manipulative father; a bit of welcome slapstick as the couple destroys a priceless treasure or two; tedious sturm und drang about the couple's sex roles and their Love Story-ish socio-economic differences (Nick's proletarian, Steph is blueblood); and, most desperately, their sex life--which includes taking porno pix of themselves (""I'd like you to masturbate for the camera, Steph""). There are a few indications that Seidman (author of the promising One Smart Indian, 1977) toyed with trying to get some serious mileage out of Nick-and-Steph's treausre-surrounded situation (""Why does this stuff have such power over us, Nick? Why is it changing our lives?""). But mostly this is just lackluster gothic-suspense (the owner/forger is caught in the act and dies of a heart attack), delivered in prose that swings from brightly efficient to downright glutinous: ""Emotionally, morally, Nick went limp"". . . ""The dam of her emotions broke and Stephanie swamped Nick in her love."" Weak, uncomfortable work from a writer apparently caught between genres and unsure of how to proceed.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
ISBN: 1439183252
Publisher: Simon & Schuster