Painted Lives

Charlotte Vale Allen, Author
Charlotte Vale Allen, Author Atheneum Books $18.95 (307p) ISBN 978-0-689-12084-8
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
While the psyche's dark recesses remain Allen's metier, the smooth, romantic narrative that drove Dream Train is rarely evident in this choppy, disappointing novel of love and betrayal. When frumpy Sarah Kidd is hired as live-in secretary to Mattie Sylvester, prickly widow of a famed painter, she joins a houseful of misfits wounded by life--a foul-mouthed chauffeur struggling with Vietnam flashbacks, a placid cook who was once a stellar forger. Night after night, like a querulous Scheherazade, Mattie recounts her life history to Sarah, telling how, as a willful young artist of great talent in the 1920s, she fell under the sexual spell of Gideon Sylvester, an artistic pretender who took her for all she was worth. This is not Allen at her spellbinding best: Mattie's bracing personality doesn't jibe with her actions, the dialogue is stiff and, with one neat exception, plot twists are signaled early on. Paperback rights to Fawcett; Troll Book Club alternate. (Apr.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!