Deceits of Time

Isabel Colegate, Author
Isabel Colegate, Author Viking Books $17.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-82400-7
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Colegate's latest contribution to her sizable corpus of novels, of which the filmed The Shooting Party is the best known, is an extraordinarily accomplished excursus of subtle complexity into memory and the nature of truth, the search for meaning and the importance of character. Opinionated, outspoken but apolitical Catherine Hillery is puzzled when she is commissioned to write the authorized biography of Neil Campion, a World War I flying ace who was a prominent British politician of the '30s and '40s until his untimely death in a car accident on the day of Rudolf Hess's famous flight to England. Why a biography of Campion is of interest in the '80s is unclear, and Hillery has difficulty pinning down his character and motives. But in delving into the Campion family's past, Hillery is brought to reexamine her own marriage and relationship to her sons, and thereby herself. Her Italian daughter-in-law Etta's lover Alfred Madden, a Jewish refugee and orphan turned gossip columnist, helps unravel the mystery, rattling disturbing skeletons of the past. Colegate's superb craftsmanship becomes evident as the pieces of her intricately designed puzzle begin to fall into place. Her elegant prose and acuity of observation are qualities the reader can savor. (Nov.)
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