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Former dancer Rann, now a dance-specialist (the paperback The Broadway Workout, 1984), debuts in fiction with a flawed but eerie, dreamlike love story with a twist: a dark and long-buried secret at its heart. At a still beautiful 38, Elizabeth, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker, returns to Barcelona to work on an upcoming movie about the Olympics. The city is full of painful memories -- it was the scene of the leg injury that ended her career as a ballerina decades before, and of countless failed love affairs -- but it also represents a place of unparalleled possibilities where she can attempt to recapture the magic of her youth. What Elizabeth doesn't expect, though, is the triggering of horrifying flashbacks that appear to her alter-ego Bethy (the nickname she gave up when she stopped dancing): long-suppressed memories of habitual rape at the hands of her charismatic father, a violinist who's been dead for years, and of her young mother's consequent suicide. Elizabeth's hallucinations follow her mercilessly as she struggles to find funding for her film, appreciate the earthly pleasures of a mesmerizing city, and launch a romance with former Olympic skier and notorious playboy/journalist Steven Brandon. Though she manages both to extinguish old flames and spark new fires in Barcelona, ultimately Elizabeth must face her traumatic past head-on if she hopes to fulfill her potential as an artist and also find true love with Steven. By the somewhat stilted conclusion, Elizabeth has revealed her dark secret to a compassionate Steven, sewing up their relationship, but Rann leaves far too many loose ends to satisfy. Carlos, the sexy Satan worshipper/artist, and Jorge, Yves, the Count, and Mercedes have all been unceremoniously dropped from the story. Spotty overall -- the interweaving of the past and present narratives proves difficult to sustain -- but an intriguing exoticism and an original style feed the reader's curiosity.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1995
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Warner