Out of Eden

Kate Lehrer, Author
Kate Lehrer, Author Harmony $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-59956-3
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Hardcover - 548 pages - 978-0-7089-5869-8
Hardcover - 978-0-517-30394-8
Paperback - 342 pages - 978-1-931868-33-4
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Meeting in Paris in the 1880s, American widow Lydia Fulgate and disinherited French socialite Charlotte Duret chafe under society's restrictions. Unwilling to be imprisoned in marriage, the two travel to Kansas, of all places, buy land, build twin houses and settle down to raise sheep in cattle country. The town of Huddleston doesn't know what to make of Lydia, the controlling idealist, and Charlotte, the vulnerable but resilient realist, as they fashion their lives on the brutal, beautiful Kansas prairies. Over the years, the two are joined by friends from Paris and engage in secret love affairs, their lives eased by the sage advice of their maid, Norah, who sympathizes with their yearning to free themselves from society's dictums but sees the costs, which Charlotte and Lydia ignore totally. In her intelligent, mannered style, Lehrer (When They Took Away the Man in the Moon) ably portrays social pressures and conventions of the period and writes well-nuanced dialogue. But her inventive premise loses force because of her tendency to explain emotions and thoughts rather than let the characters express themselves through their own words and actions. (Sept.)
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