Meeting Lily

Sarah Woodhouse, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-13563-8
The freshness of time and place--postwar central Italy--alone could carry British writer Woodhouse's seventh novel (Enchanted Ground, etc.). But there is more: she assembles a cast of unforgettable characters and lets them work out all matters of love and attraction and the difference between the two. Having recently converted the shabby-genteel Villa Giulia into a small hotel, 36-year-old English widow Nan Mortimer is confronted by crisis when an elderly guest, Major Edward Baghot, dies in his bed; she thereafter experiences ``an upheaval of all she thought settled and safe.'' The Major's dotty wife goes for a walk on the morning of his death. Then she stays on--and on--paying no bills and secreting picnic lunches to give to illicit young lovers Graziella, a 16-year-old convent-raised serving maid, and Fr. Michele, an earnest village priest whose father was shot for betraying partisans in the war. Childless Nan is mother hen to this errant brood, and her usually reliable confidant, Dr. Fortuno, is often no help as he throws himself into the folly of an affair with a married hotel guest. The removal of Molly is up to her cigar-smoking, spinster sister, Lily, whose continually postponed arrival from England propels this fine, gently tragicomic tale. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 12/04/1995
Release date: 12/01/1995
Mass Market Paperbound - 277 pages - 978-0-312-96583-9
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-7089-3475-3
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