Family Games

Jean Stubbs, Author
Jean Stubbs, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (294p) ISBN 978-0-312-10437-5
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-95479-6
Hardcover - 522 pages - 978-0-7862-0311-6
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Funny, honest dialogue and a cozy, gossipy plot that is as complex and convoluted as real life make Stubbs's ( Kelly Park ) latest novel satisfying. Sybil Malpas invites her children and grandchildren to Cornwall to spend what, for a variety of reasons, may be their last Christmas together at Minions, the 17th-century farmhouse that has been their vacation home for nearly 40 years. The family assembles: headstrong daughter Blanche, an unwed mother, brings her infant son and temporarily abandons her feud with her father, the brilliant and irascible Anthony; recently separated son Edward, still reeling from his wife's departure, arrives with his two children; and beautiful, dependent daughter Lydia surprises the others by bringing a likable woman friend instead of another one of a parade of ``moneyed and moronic'' male beaux. At the close of the Malpases' impromptu Christmas Eve open house, three unexpected visitors appear, Magi-like, at the door. One is Natalie, Anthony's imperious twin sister; another is Katrina, Edward's estranged wife; the third is Daniel Kidd, the father of Blanche's child. Their arrival spurs the revelation of a number of the family's long-held secrets. Though their bold, outrageous gestures provide much of the tale's drama, curmudgeonly Anthony and his imperious sister are basically romantic caricatures, but this minor flaw is unlikely to keep readers from enjoying their antics or the more down-to-earth behavior of the other members of the captivating Malpas clan. (June)
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