The Wrong House

Carol MCD Wallace, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (311p) ISBN 978-0-312-10579-2
``WASPs,'' an Upper East Side psychic exclaims disapprovingly near the end of this delightful novel by a coauthor of The Official Preppy Handbook . ``I try not to make judgments, but really, what a group for masking things.'' All the characters here are masking one thing or another, particularly the women. For Frances Drummond, it's her deep resentment that her husband, Hart (who seems, at times, heartless) takes her for granted. Her feelings become hard to control when he inadvertently buys the Wrong House (often capitalized in the text) and they are forced to live in what is an ugly imitation of a Swiss chalet, which Frances calls her ``hair shirt.'' Meanwhile, Frances and Hart's daughter, Eleanor, is pridefully hiding her attraction to painter George Sinclair, having discovered that her brother secretly set them up. Wallace successfully adopts a gently ironic yet sympathetic attitude toward her characters, people who live sheltered lives of affluence and privilege, yet who are not spared pain and humiliation. Like Evan Connell in Mrs. Bridge , Wallace packs her prose with smart, amusing and often moving observations about members of a small segment of society who have trouble seeing beyond themselves. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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