The House Guest

Barbara Anderson, Author
Barbara Anderson, Author Random House (UK) $24.95 (312p) ISBN 978-0-224-04380-9
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A clumsy plot mars this otherwise subtle, witty tale about three young people in Wellington, New Zealand. The introspective only son of a widowed mother, grad student Robin Dromgoole has helped take care of sweet, unworldly Lisa Shield, his next door neighbor, since she was born and he was 12. Years later, when the two fall in love and marry, they seem to have found storybook happiness. But fate intervenes, and Robin finds himself connected in sad, unexpected ways to the other girl next door: the troubled, sexually adventurous actress Emmeline O'Malley. The creaky thread-tying machinery that binds these neighbors together makes a disappointing contrast to Anderson's vivid portraits of secondary characters, including Lisa's arrogant leech of a brother, her chatterbox fellow lab-technicians and Robin's morbid, church-going mum. These appealing characters make Wattie Award-winning Anderson (Portrait of the Artist's Wife) worth reading. (Oct.)
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