Double Take

Eleanor Bron, Author
Eleanor Bron, Author George Weidenfeld & Nicholson $26 (0p) ISBN 978-0-297-81765-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7540-0001-3
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The grand passions and tragedies in this fiction debut from British actress Bron (The Pillow Book of Eleanor Bron) promise a discreetly titillating read, if nothing else. But thanks to her knowledge of the London theater world, Bron has managed something more: a crisp, gossipy melodrama in three acts. In the first act, Donald Ballader (preparing for the role of Astrov in Uncle Vanya) meets his leading lady, anxious, prudish Bella Provan, who is recovering from an unconsummated romance with a married man. By the second act, Bella and the womanizing Donald have fallen in love and married: they seem poised to become latter-day Lunts. But when a severe loss drives them apart, the stage is set for a grim denouement and their unavoidable final separation. Bron tells her story with assurance, avoiding sentimentality, deftly incorporating several plays performed by the protagonists and crafting wonderful scenes of theater politics. If the result is a little bloodless (some character descriptions belong in an actor's notebook rather than in a novel), Bron's West End morality play will nevertheless entertain many readers who have dreamed of treading the boards. (Dec.)
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