Truth to Tell

Nancy Bond, Author
Nancy Bond, Author Margaret K. McElderry Books $17.95 (325p) ISBN 978-0-689-50601-7
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Alice, 14, is bewildered when her mother, Christine, suddenly decides to leave England for New Zealand, where she's been engaged, sight unseen, to help wealthy artist Miss Fairchild write a history of her family home. The house turns out to be a moldering estate with only the boozy gardener in attendance, so Christine is obliged to be the housekeeper and--when her elderly employer returns home ill from a painting trip to Burma--cook and nursemaid too. Alice is miserable, but her most pressing fears are allayed when her beloved but undependable stepfather, Len, finally joins them. A chance remark from Miss Fairchild, however, leaves Alice questioning the truth about her paternity. After running away, the girl ultimately makes her peace with Len but, disappointingly, not with her mother, who, despite her importance to the plot, remains a distant figure throughout. Bond's ( Another Shore ) story, although sparked with some insightful passages and flavorful dialogue, suffers from an obvious plot and, more fatally, relies on a tacked-on epilogue to tie up all the loose ends. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
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