The Observatory

Emily Grayson, Author
Emily Grayson, Author William Morrow & Company $20 (192p) ISBN 978-0-688-17439-2
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-58788-087-2
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-700-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-482-1
Hardcover - 216 pages - 978-1-58547-150-8
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-380-81762-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-56740-878-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-59600-627-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-59600-628-7
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Despite a cliched setup--wild twin/conservative twin make their respective ways in the world--Grayson (The Gazebo) neatly explores how individuals enmeshed in their pasts are able to rebound from tragedy, emerge as better people and even find true love. Liz Mallory is a librarian in her hometown of Longwood Falls. Her parents are dead, and she lives alone in her childhood home, leading a monotonous life devoid of excitement. In contrast, her twin sister, Harper, divorced from a wealthy husband, is a well-known avant-garde painter and lives in a mansion on Long Island with her two children. That the two sisters are presently estranged is believable, but Grayson hasn't come up with a credible backstory explaining what set them so virulently against each other when they were growing up. A family tragedy brings them together as adults, however, and Liz offers to take care of Harper's son, Nick, while her sister goes away by herself for a while. Forging a tentative relationship with the nephew she never knew, Liz crosses paths with David Fields, an amateur astronomer, who is also Nick's teacher. David, whose Olympic swimmer mother mysteriously disappeared in an aquatic accident when he was a child, has issues about relationships, as does intimacy-shy Liz. Despite their reservations, the two quickly become involved, but Liz's predictable discovery that David and her sister once had an affair forces them apart. Although the plot is highly schematic, Grayson keeps it moving swiftly. She has a gift for capturing how relationships begin and develop and a sympathetically attuned insight into human nature. (May)
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