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SLEEPING BEAUTIES by Susanna Moore

SLEEPING BEAUTIES

By Susanna Moore

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-58280-2
Publisher: Knopf

 Once upon a time, a young girl, fleeing her wicked stepmother, runs away to live with her mysterious aunt and her blind grandmother and grows up to marry a handsome movie star. But, title notwithstanding, this is not part of any simple fairy tale--it's Moore's third novel, another lush and haunting Hawaiian lament. Clio Lynott, like Moore's earlier heroines--Lily in My Old Sweetheart (1982) and Mamie in The Whiteness of Bones (1989)--is a child cut adrift from her parents and deeply attuned to the mythology and exotic landscape of her homeland. In Clio's case, this affinity for all things Hawaiian is encouraged by her aunt Emma Fitzroy, who teaches her ``the long songs without rhyme called meles, the hulas and oral genealogies; the very history of her passing race.'' It is the weight of all this history that eventually causes Clio to escape into a loveless marriage with Tommy Haywood, a small-minded, big-time Hollywood star. For a while, Clio deceives herself, believing in happily ever after, but soon it becomes clear that not all Prince Charmings are created equal. Ultimately, though, it is Hawaii and all its history--her own history--that draws the aptly named Clio back home to stay with Emma and Mabel, her blind and ancient grandmother. As a heroine, Clio is sometimes a trifle wan, but her story is always vivid. Moore's writing, as ever, almost glows with tropical heat. The Hawaii we see here is enchanting, dangerous, and at the brink of being lost forever. Moore locates it permanently for us- -just midway between fever dream and fairy tale. (First printing of 35,000)