Falling Into Glory

Robert Westall, Author
Robert Westall, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $18 (310p) ISBN 978-0-374-32256-4
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-7497-1755-1
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Set in classic Westall country-the north of England, shortly after WWII-this atmospheric novel tackles fairly sophisticated subject matter: a 17-year-old's affair with a woman nearly twice his age. Swarthy, muscular Robbie Atkinson has become one of the school's most respected boys. Over the course of a few months, he attracts the interest of a teacher, beautiful Emma Harris, whose fiance was killed in the war. Though it starts out innocently enough, Robbie and Emma's friendship develops-in fits and starts-into a full-fledged love affair. Their efforts at concealment (along with their tender, sexually charged interludes) give the narrative plenty of zip. Further jolts to the adrenals are provided by Robbie's Machiavellian efforts to ensure a long-sought victory for the school rugby team, of which he is the unofficial leader. Peppered with colorful dialect, the first-person narrative authoritatively sweeps the reader along. An underlying theme-Robbie's identification with Heathcliff, that other dark and calculating northerner-rises masterfully to the surface in the novel's bittersweet conclusion. Ages 14-up. (May)
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