To Catch the Sun

Fiona Bullen, Author St. Martin's Press $19.95 (507p) ISBN 978-0-312-04438-1
This first novel stagnates after a promising beginning. Ursula Fraser enjoys a comfortable childhood in pre-WW II Singapore until her colonialist father remarries. When the Japanese sweep into Malaysia, her stepmother flees with her own children, leaving Ursula behind; she is saved because her amah dyes her skin and passes her off as a native. Orphaned by the war's end, Ursula joins an aunt and uncle in London, escaping them via a hasty marriage at age 18 to a dashing, sophisticated womanizer. At this point Bullen's faith in Ursula seems to wither: coping with motherhood and an absentee husband, the heroine seems to flick her own maturity on and off, the sound judgment she evinced as an adolescent all but vanished. She and her daughter transplant themselves to Australia, where Ursula then enters an affair with a rising, married politician. Though Bullen does justice to the story's three settings, she fails to make Ursula's trials truly compelling. (July)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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