The Fierce Dispute

Helen Hooven Santmyer, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-01152-9
The success of "". . . And Ladies of the Club'' has prompted reissue of the author's earlier works. This novel, her second, was originally published in 1929and the years have not been kind. Dated in form and content, it is what was once called a ``woman's book,'' but a contemporary audience will find its simple sentimentality tame. In the Ohio town familiar to readers of Santmyer's other works, a genteel matriarchy lives in a once magnificent, now dilapidated family manse behind a locked iron gate. The trio, consisting of the disapproving grandmother, Mrs. Baird, her shamed daughter Hilary and granddaughter Lucy Anne, live cut off from the rest of the community. The tension between mother and daughter for the child's spirit and affection propels the plot, which hinges on the mystery surrounding the child's father, a musician, and the rosewood piano in the attic. For all its gothic posing, dark glances and histrionic dialogue, this is a colorless novel in which the few psychological insights are not sufficient to invest the narrative with vitality or credibility. (November)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1987
Release date: 10/01/1987
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-312-91028-0
Library Binding - 229 pages - 978-0-8161-4645-1
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-8142-0834-2
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