This second book in the planned Roth Trilogy looks back a generation at some of the origins of characters and action in the first book, The Four Last Things (1997). Taylor builds a powerful narrative as his struggling characters face an array of temptations that the reader knows early on will overwhelm them. Set in 1970 in the village of Roth, near London, the tale is narrated by David Byfield, a Church of England minister. The near bucolic setting hides a raft of jealousies and passions that quietly build and seethe until the inevitable crest. As David, his new wife, Vanessa, his daughter Rosemary, home for school holiday, and his godson Michael try to adapt to living with one another, other forces obtrude. But David's concern with the church fete stirs up trouble, as does Vanessa's research into the life of the mad poet-priest, Francis Youlgreave, buried in the parish church, and Rosemary's infatuation with the handsome young man who has just moved into Roth Park, the village's big manor house. The clincher is David's growing attraction to the young man's ethereal older sister. Although Taylor has willingly sacrificed some suspense by adopting this reverse chronology, he is sufficiently skillful to keep the reader on edge all the way to the stunning climax. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998 Release date: 10/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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