THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS

Yona Zeldis McDonough, Author
Yona Zeldis McDonough, Author . Doubleday $23.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-50361-7
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Father and son fall for the same girl in this uneven debut. Oscar Kornblatt, first violinist for the New York City Ballet, finds the quiet routine of his life shattered when he meets Ginny Valentine, an ambitious member of the corps de ballet. Although Ginny is unlike the more sophisticated women who have caught Oscar's attention in the past, she has a fiery energy that he can't resist and the two begin an affair. Unaware of the extent of his involvement with Ginny, Oscar's wife, Ruth, invites her to Thanksgiving dinner. When she catches Ginny in the guest bedroom kissing not Oscar but their married eldest son, Gabriel, the delicate balance of the family is imperiled. McDonough focuses on one character in each chapter, which gives the reader a sense of the various histories and tensions involved, but this technique also makes the narrative somewhat halting and disjointed. Ruth emerges as levelheaded and understanding, while Ginny is stereotypically selfish and narcissistic and Gabriel's wife, Penelope, is unstable. Lust and jealousy consume Oscar and Gabriel, although there is not much about Ginny that can really account for this. Events unfold in a predictable manner for most of the book, until things take a tragic turn and Ruth flees to Mexico, taking Gabriel's one-year-old daughter with her. McDonough has a knack for building solid characters, though they are overshadowed by the melodrama of their situations. National advertising. (Aug.)

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