Kerry Hardie, Author . Little, Brown $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-07622-7

Readers of Hardie's first novel may conclude early on that it's probably best for anyone with lots of secrets not to move to a claustrophobically nosy village in Ireland. Too bad, then, that 52-year-old serial wife Hannie Bennet is so desperate to marry again that she flouts this sensible dictum. At a friend's wedding in England, widowed Hannie meets Ned Renvyle, a much older writer looking for a wife, and they agree to a pragmatic marriage—he gets a companion, she gets to share his money. Settling on Ned's farm in the Irish countryside, Hannie soon discovers that enduring the snooping of the snobbish community may be too high a price to pay for financial security, particularly when her disturbed teenage son, Joss, arrives. His increasingly menacing behavior further underscores the differences between her and the villagers and eventually drives her to reveal a tragic secret from her past. An intelligent, subtle writer, Hardie paints a convincing picture of the compromises of domestic life. She explores questions of aging and mortality, idealism and cynicism, "nature versus nurture" and the responsibility that comes with marriage as she takes Hannie's story to its dark but hopeful climax. Sometimes Hardie overreaches, piling the philosophy on too thick and diluting the power of Hannie's revelation. Still, if readers are willing to indulge these meditations, Hardie's debut will leave them wondering what else this provocative writer has up her sleeve. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 12/01/2002
Ebook - 978-0-316-08229-7
Paperback - 394 pages - 978-0-316-60847-3
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0771-3
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