Taking Shelter

Jessica S. Andersen, Author
Jessica S. Andersen, Author Viking Books $17.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-82950-7
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Readers who have not discovered Australian writer Anderson ( The Only Daughter ) should do so with this new novel, an engaging story of young love in a culture of changing sexual mores, when ``general promiscuity'' has given way to prudence regarding AIDS. Shy, meek Beth Jeams is courted by suave Miles Ligard, coming under the sway of his charming but controlling personality and ``unrelenting critical spirit.'' She enjoys being part of his ``group,'' which includes his 68-year-old cousin, twice-divorced Juliet, who turns out to be this book's most enchanting, memorable character. When Miles admits that he has been using Beth as a shield to disguise his homosexuality, she fatefully (or miraculously) re-encounters Marcus Pirie, a feckless underachiever as young as herself (both are 20), whom she had last seen 14 years earlier in a chance meeting in Rome. The appearance in Sydney of Marcus's mother, Nita, who has left her philandering husband and moves in with the couple, adds a complication to a situation already dicey due to Beth's pregnancy. But tart, quirky Juliet, whose tough exterior protects a sentimental heart, solves this and other problems with her tactful generosity. Juliet's reward comes in the novel's last page, when her dreams and reality suddenly coincide. Anderson conveys this heartwarming story in an oblique but witty style, scattering insights and surprises throughout. (Mar.)
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