As We Forgive

Barbara Neil, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (223p) ISBN 978-0-312-05831-9
In the opening pages of Neil's fiction debut (a Booker Prize nominee) we meet a couple who ""shared a shyness about life and a code of reticence which made others dub Eric mildly boring and Lydia a trifle dull.'' Readers should not be put off by this description: these characters, and the story that encompasses them, are anything but dull and boring. Neil's haunting, intricate tale unfolds in several time frames, all involving Lydia's relationship with Ben Wavell, father of her childhood friend Nathalie. The Wavells's seemingly idyllic family life had been proved a sham when Ben's wife left him for another man, taking Nathalie with her. Nine years later, Ben and Lydia reencounter each other and she falls under his charismatic spell. Ben in turn transfers his adoration of his estranged daughter onto Lydia, and they become loversuntil Nathalie reappears. Obsessive love, loneliness, despair, guilt and incest are all deftly brought into this ambitiousn work, which would be a praiseworthy achievement even for a seasoned writer; as a first novel it is an extraordinary accomplishment. February 28
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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