Magnolia Gardens

Caroline Bridgwood, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-312-01473-5
A novel that gets off to a running start when Frank Finzel, son of the working classes, makes it big in plumbing supplies, loses pace as the next generation takes over. Frank's South London accents are warm and authentic, but his daughter Mel, who grows up in bourgeois Magnolia Gardens, sounds little different from her best friend Loveday Stark or any one of the other characters who stroll in and out of the book's many chapters. The author has set herself the daunting task of telling her story from the point of view of five people, choreographing a tableau that includes not only Mel and Loveday but the triangular love affairs the two young women conduct. Since these liaisons are chronicled in a breathless fashion that leans heavily on cliche, and since there's nothing new about old men and young mistresses, the reader often longs to return to Finzel's youthful honesty and vigor. There is, however, much here to capture the attention, from the catty behavior of the girls in a Swiss boarding school, to riots in London's East End, to romantic walks along the Seine. Besides the satisfaction of a complex narrative, Bridgwood provides a meticulously researched overview of this century's politics and problems. (March)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
Hardcover - 704 pages - 978-0-7089-2020-6
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