Jasmine Piast is a young illustrator of children's books. Terence Lacy is an attractive Welshman of uncertain origin who comes suddenly into her life and seems to have a mysterious power that both repels and enthralls Jasmine. The people in the picture alluded to in the title are her family, and somehow Terence knows too much about them and their futures. The ambiguity of this first novel by an Oxford lecturer on British mythology is created to mirror the Welsh myth of Taliesin. Like Taliesin, Terence changes form, and Jasmine, whose sexual advances he rebuffs, must try to determine if she has somehow summoned him into existence. Middleton's writing is effective when not weighted by metaphor and preciosity. But there are too many sentences such as, ""And she genuinely regarded her failure to do so as a perversion, a dark, sticky and writhing thing that cast its shadow over every other aspect of her life.'' Despite some good moments, the story lumbers along where it ought to soar. A contemporary novel rooted in myth is a conceit that a deft writer can carry off. But this combination of heavy-handed imagery, sometimes sloppy writing and a plot that relies on its mythological antecedent for meaning adds up to a book that tries to be grand but is only grandiose. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988 Release date: 03/01/1988 Genre: Nonfiction
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