Lori Marie Carlson, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-621068-1

Based on the life of pioneering aviatrix Clara Livingston, Carlson's sedate novel tells the surprisingly muted story of an adventurous young woman's coming of age. Lenora Demarest is 16 when her mother dies and her wealthy physician father, Henry, decides to make a new life for himself as the owner of a grapefruit plantation in Puerto Rico. On their way to the island, Lenora meets George Hanson, a daredevil pilot whose stories make her dream of becoming a pilot herself. As the novel proceeds through the 1920s, Lenora splits her time between the plantation and the Demarest house in upstate New York. Society life bores her—she is particularly bothered by the attentions of her Puerto Rican neighbor, the importunate Ignacio Portelli—so she is pleased to immerse herself in the management of the grapefruit plantation. But when her father marries his Puerto Rican housekeeper, Lenora craves escape and finds it in flying adventures with George. Carlson's knowledge of Latin American culture shines through, and she incorporates just the right amount of Puerto Rican political history and little-known tidbits about the new cadre of women flyers, with Amelia Earhart playing a minor role in Lenora's adult life. Though the novel's prose can be prim ("After they embraced against a flaming maple tree, Lenora trembling from emotion, they said their shy farewells") and it is curiously lacking in drama, the lucidity and warmth with which Carlson (The Sunday Tertulia) approaches her memorable heroine makes this a winning, sweet tale. Agent, Jennifer Lyons. (Oct. 11)

Reviewed on: 09/23/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 256 pages - 978-0-06-189981-2
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