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 City mouse wreaks havoc in the gentrified country in this lackluster British soap, paced like interminable knitting--knit one, pearl two, sex, lactation, adultery, chintz, tears, cases of dry wine, eggplant-purÇe rosettes in pastry shells, knit one. In another formulaic romance from Rosie Thomas (All My Sins Remembered, 1992), Nina Cort (nÇe Strange), a 35-year-old widow often described with reference to her prominent bones, nubs, and ridges, leaves a tear-stained, antique-filled existence in London- -and the house in Norfolk--to bloody well get on with her life (``She had cried more than enough for now''). Nina buys a Georgian row house in Grafton, the medieval country town where she grew up, installs her Queen Anne chest-on-chest, and proceeds to topple over the picture-postcard marriages of five 30-ish upper-middle-class couples--the Frosts, Wickhams, Cleggs, Ransomes, and Roses--who have settled into their family lives like fat around middle-aged thighs. Nina sleeps with Gordon Ransome, whose ``bovine'' wife, Vicky, has just had another baby. Then Vicky takes up with Darcy Clegg to show that she can do it, too. Then Darcy's wife has sex with Michael Wickham in the Bedouin tent folds of the dressing room of her posh dress shop. Then Marcelle Wickham propositions Jimmy Rose, who is already, regretfully, sleeping with Darcy's 19-year- old daughter. Then Nina, through with Gordon, who has been forgiven by Vicky, begins a liaison with Darcy's healthy 25-year-old boy Barney. And Star Rose, who makes a pass at Nina, gets fed up and moves to Portland, Oregon. Nina, pregnant and reborn, returns to London, leaving the remaining 4´ couples sadder, wiser, and still drinking wine. With all this, it's a dreary tempest. Maybe you just have to be British. (Book-of-the-Month alternate selection)

Pub Date: May 24th, 1994
ISBN: 0-688-12962-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1994


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