Sandspit Crossing

Noel Virtue, Author Peter Owen Publishers $29.95 (182p) ISBN 978-0-7206-0906-6
Using the vernacular of his native New Zealand to trace the decline and fall of a North Island village, Virtue ( The Eye of the Everlasting Angel ) tells a sweet coming-of-age saga that alternates bizarre episodes from rural life with tedious lulls in which his penchant for dense description and overwrought colloquialism gets the best of him. When Athol Buck's parents leave Sandspit Crossing to seek fame and fortune in Australia and America, the boy is forced to move in with spinster librarian Magdalen Maidstone, who rides a Harley. The narrative, which is nearly dialogue-free, focuses primarily on the adventures of this truly odd couple, which peak when much of the town is burned down by Maidstone's libidinous, rejected suitor. Other episodes detail the efforts of a women's group to keep the memory of a local, controversial sculptress alive and the machinations of an evangelist preacher who's out to hoodwink town residents into helping him build a church. For the most part, Virtue writes with verve and charm, capturing the sadness and triumphs of the villagers and faltering only when he gets caught up in his own verbosity and the forced eccentricities of his characters. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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