A Woman Possessed

Malcolm MacDonald, Author
Malcolm MacDonald, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (375p) ISBN 978-0-312-09416-4
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Although this talky saga often drags, Macdonald ( A Woman Scorned) nonetheless depicts turn-of-the-century Cornwall convincingly and peoples it with a mix of new characters and those from earlier books. The settled and beloved routine of Giles and Laura Curnow is severely disrupted by the return from South Africa of Maurice Petifer, Laura's once penniless first love who is now a millionaire. After Maurice buys the property adjoining the Curnows', Giles, a well-to-do merchant who has prided himself on treating Laura as an equal, finds himself consumed with primitive jealousy, while Laura, the mother of five, feels ambivalent and restless. The emotional stew boils over when Giles, Laura, her widowed cousin Sibylla Johnson, their wealthy neighbors and friends the Troys and Maurice visit London for the 1903 New Year's celebration. Macdonald's characters discuss their emotions endlessly and tediously, but they rarely take any action. Sibylla's behavior is central to the plot, but her motives are left unexplained for so long that the final revelation is an anticlimax. (June)
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