Almost Perfect

Alice Adams, Author
Alice Adams, Author Alfred A. Knopf $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-42398-0
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
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Always an acute observer of people and relationships, Adams ( Caroline's Daughters ) here writes convincingly and movingly of a passionate love affair, investing her controlled, analytical prose with remarkable depth and feeling. To talented but insecure journalist Stella Blake, her intense affair with charismatic advertising entrepreneur Richard Fallon is ``almost perfect.'' Richard is startlingly handsome, likes to cook, always brings flowers. Soon, however, it becomes obvious that he is unstable: he drinks too much and flies into rages. Accustomed to disparaging herself as small, dark and dowdy, Stella is astonished that gorgeous Richard is in her bed, and even as her disquietude increases she is helpless to restrain her love. The perfectly calibrated tension rises as she gradually realizes that Richard is a manic-depressive on the verge of madness. As we expect in Adams's novels, Stella and Richard are placed in a circle of relationships--some his friends, some hers, some in common--so that all the characters are involved in a vortex of coincidence and fate. The San Francisco setting is again an important component: Adams describes different neighborhoods and the kinds of people who live there in deft, evocative strokes; as in previous books, the specters of AIDS and homelessness impinge on her characters' fortunate lives. This richly imaginative psychological novel will surely rank as one of her best in a distinguished career. BOMC alternate. (June)
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