Kathleen Rowntree, Author Little Brown and Company $17.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-75975-5
Willow Dasset is the ancestral farm to which the Robinson family returns each summer in this rather old-fashioned novel, simultaneously published in Britain as Brief Shining. Bearing resemblances to the works of Margaret Kennedy and Rumer Godden, Rowntree's novel is crafted of ornate language and sometimes overly polished syntax. But by the time the reader adjusts to the rhythm of the prose, a compelling story has begun to emerge. Populated by eccentric (and stereotypically British) characters, Willow Dasset bears witness to a young girl's coming of age. Complicated family relationships are played out over a span of some 30 years as various characters come into focus. There is an almost Jamesian ambiguity in the ghostly presence of an inscrutable deceased grandmother, but Rowntree hasn't quite fulfilled her premise by the book's end. The narrative is quietly haunting, however, with memorable characters who live beyond the plot's limitations. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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