The View from the Summerhouse

Barbara Whitnell, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (316p) ISBN 978-0-312-11913-3
The lyrically rendered settings of WWII and contemporary Cornwall highlight this well-paced novel from Whitnell (Charmed Circle). Recently widowed and newly retired from a New York ad agency, David Holt is knocking around home, wondering when he will stop seeing his wife in every corner of the garden he's unsuccessful at tending. He's ripe, then, for adventure when his journalist son Simon calls from London to say that he's been commissioned to write an article on legendary radio broadcaster Caleb Carne, whose stirring panegyrics to Britain garnered great fame during the war. Carne is a name out of David's past. As a 19-year-old American soldier, David had practically been adopted by the Carne family after a chance meeting with the youngest Carne daughter, Pen. Pen's sisters, Trish and Caro, are also potent figures in David's memory--especially Trish, who broke his heart. But that was nothing compared to the horror he experienced in a small boat off the Cornish coast with Caleb Carne and an ill-explained corpse. Meaning to get answers, David accepts Simon's offer to visit him with the Carnes; he also means to correct his original mistake and explore the possibility of a relationship with the right Carne sister this time around. While Simon has his own stormy relationship with Laura, the granddaughter of old Carne's former mistress, the puzzle of Carne's life and career is slowly put together through the flashbacks of the older generation and the investigations of the younger one. Still, despite a plausible plot, intriguing characters and romance, the surprising answer to the central mystery doesn't fully engage and, in the end, it all seems a bit too facile. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
Hardcover - 505 pages - 978-0-7862-0369-7
Hardcover - 505 pages - 978-0-7451-7884-4
Hardcover - 505 pages - 978-0-7451-3709-4
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