FALL LOVE

Anne Whitehouse, Author
Anne Whitehouse, Author . Xlibris $25 (517p) ISBN 978-0-7388-4826-6
Paperback - 517 pages - 978-0-7388-4827-3
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Love in the '80s in New York City is exhaustively explored in poet Whitehouse's vividly detailed but overlong first novel. Althea, a beautiful and daring painter, and Jeanne, a sweet, timid accountant, are childhood friends who come to work in New York at the same time. Each is vaguely dissatisfied and lonely when the dashing bisexual Paul, recently abandoned by his boyfriend, Bryce, meets each of them and, by a string of coincidences, ends up romancing them both. When desire brings all three together on a visit to Block Island, the resulting sexual and social tension follows them back to New York. Jeanne may love Althea, Althea regrets what happened, Paul is apathetic, Althea is in love with Paul, Paul sleeps with Jeanne. Such permutations continue as the novel follows them through the next few months, the situation complicated by Bryce's return and an accident that threatens Paul's dancing career. Whitehouse is adept at capturing New York in the '80s, including descriptions of perfect city days, the specter of AIDS, bits and pieces of bisexuality, and lots of Greenwich Village color. But despite its bohemian edge, the novel is heavily sentimental: even ne'er-do-well Paul has good intentions at heart, and the rest of the cast are perpetually sweet though tortured. They may not do the right thing, but they mean to, and they ponder their choices for pages fore and aft. Althea and Jeanne do manage to stop thinking long enough to find their intended mates, but most readers will lose interest in Whitehouse's inflated prose long before the happy ending. (Nov.)

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