All the Winters That Have Been

Evan Maxwell, Author
Evan Maxwell, Author HarperCollins Publishers $15 (168p) ISBN 978-0-06-017633-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 240 pages - 978-0-06-100903-7
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Maxwell, who has written as A.D. Maxwell (Murder Hurts) and Ann Maxwell (The Ruby), might as well sign himself Robert James Waller Maxwell. Like The Bridges of Madison County, this breathlessly melodramatic novel opens and closes in the present day, with entries in a tell-all journal, references to a photograph album and a secret, enduring love. Years before, game-service agent Dane Corvin went undercover in Washington state to nab salmon poachers. During the investigation, the rugged Dane spent one night of passion with Helen Raven, a poacher's sister. But Dane sent Helen's brother to jail, effectively ending the bittersweet romance--for a while. Twenty years later, returning to Puget Sound to care for his cancer-stricken uncle, Dane checks in on Helen, now a 39-year-old widow. Helen is afraid to tell Dane that her son--who's conveniently away at college--is his son. Yet she can't resist her old flame: ``Slowly she became a woman again, instead of a mother. And Dane became a man, the magnet for her love.'' Maxwell indulges in hamfisted references to wolves and ravens as the characters' mythological counterparts; over and over, Dane's wolf-like green eyes, which his son has inherited, are contrasted with Helen's raven-like darkness. The author also goes to absurd lengths to show Dane's sensitive side, while also hinting at a Neanderthal masculinity. Cliches and a scorn for subtlety render the characters ridiculous. But things could be worse--at least Dane doesn't have a name for his truck. Translation and dramatic rights: Dominic Abel. (Apr.)
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