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Another of Ghose's thick fictions about exoticism and destiny--this one with a clutch of coincidences, accidents, and congruent errors so excessive it might have made even Dickens blush. A meek bureaucrat in some unspecified South American state, Felipe Gamboa is passed over for a promotion, loses the lottery by a hair, discovers his daughter groping with a boy in the park, and is generally miserable. On a consoling walk, he finds himself in the middle of a political demonstration, is arrested, convicted, and in short order sent into exile on a nearly deserted offshore island. Meanwhile, the daughter's barely teen-aged swain, Federico, is also snared by chance: swindled in a gambling ruse of money that he has stolen from his father's wallet, Federico thereafter is lucky enough to come into possession of a magical amulet. It then sends him directly into a life of sybaritic pleasure and gangsterism. In connection with his shady business, he one day surveys an uninhabited coastal island. . .and finds--who else?--Gamboa. Ghose has the best luck with the middle term of this unlikely equation: Gamboa's daughter, Mariana, and her descent from bourgeois schoolgirl to wretchedly poor chambermaid; there's a tangy political edge here. But once Federico and Gamboa are reunited on the island--this obviously is Ghose's Tempest--the book flattens out completely: too many reflections on chance and irresistible coincidence. It seriously dampens a book that otherwise has a good portion of Ghose's customary energy and vinelike fantasy.

Pub Date: July 16th, 1986
Publisher: Harper & Row