Strange Fits of Passion

Anita Shreve, Author
Anita Shreve, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $18.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-15-185760-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-451-40300-1
Hardcover - 978-0-517-09885-1
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-15-600710-8
Hardcover - 978-1-58547-045-7
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-0-15-603139-4
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-547-54537-0
Paperback - 608 pages - 978-0-349-12310-3
Hardcover - 978-0-7528-5717-6
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As she did in her first novel, Eden Close , Shreve opens this absorbing story with oblique hints of a violent event--here a murder committed by a woman in response to domestic abuse--then segues to flashbacks that slowly reveal the circumstances leading up to it. A reporter who wrote a book about the crime shares her notes, presented in alternating versions and voices. Most affecting is the voice of the accused woman, who flees Manhattan with her six-month-old daughter to seek sanctuary in a coastal Maine village where she is protected by the clannish but sympathetic townspeople. She finds temporary solace in an affair with a sensitive lobsterman, but is betrayed to her husband by another man out of jealousy. Shreve is particularly effective in evoking the landscape and atmosphere of a close-knit community and the authentic vernacular of its nicely differentiated inhabitants. Her elegiac, portentous prose provides effective pacing. The novel's main drawback, however, lies in its predictability, and in the lack of credibility for the heroine's violent act, faults Shreve somewhat overcomes by raising the question of journalistic integrity (did the reporter alter her notes?) and the possibility that the accused woman's account might have contained deliberate falsehoods. In spite of its superficialities, however, the novel is often insightful and moving. (Apr.)
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