Josey Rose

Jane Wood, Author
Jane Wood, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-684-83791-8
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
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Child abuse and incest spark forbidden love in Wood's gothic, ludicrously overwrought debut. In early 1960s New Hampshire, young Josey Rose hits puberty fearful of his father's alcoholic tantrums but curious about the taboo topic of his mother--who, he is told, died years ago--and Lily, the mysterious, beautiful young woman whom he discovers living in a deserted chapel in the nearby woods. At home, he combs his mad grandmother's hair as she obsessively pastes pictures into scrapbooks. After befriending Lily, Josey witnesses his father rape her; he asks help from the minister, who tries to molest him. Gradually, the boy realizes that he and Lily are connected by ties stronger than their mutual attraction, but his fantasies about running away with the mentally fragile young woman are thwarted. Wood describes sexual abuse in indignant prose and energetic detail, sharply contrasting Josey's violently manipulative father with the gently passionate young hero. The convoluted melodrama of the Rose family is further tangled by unbelievable dialogue, fuzzy characterizations and even fuzzier sex scenes (""Then sipping from the wells of my neck, she'd whisper of angels sighing, butterflies breathing, galaxies falling, and the crackling hiss of dawn""). Despite its charged themes, this book must be judged as soft porn for the socially conscious--and as soft porn it certainly fails. Film rights to Hit & Run Productions. (June)
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