Montenegro

Starling Lawrence, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $23 (320p) ISBN 978-0-374-21407-4
The Norton editor-in-chief, whose 1996 story collection, Legacies, was well received, has done something quite different here. He has written a dashing novel set in the rocky heart of the Balkans at the turn of the century, but with emotions and political fervor that uncannily foreshadow the present-day Bosnian quagmire. Auberon Harwell is a bold young English adventurer whose trip to the mountain fastnesses between Serbia and Albania, ostensibly to collect alpine plant samples, is in fact a spying expedition financed by a cynical British politician hoping to make capital out of British intervention in that tinderbox where the ambitions and aspirations of Austria, the Ottoman empire and the fervently nationalist natives collide. Harwell's impetuous, headstrong nature leads him into involvement with a nationalist hero, his splendidly brooding wife, with whom he is instantly smitten, and their cherished son, Toma, whom the mother yearns to set free to escape to America and life as an engineer. The smoldering passions burst into flame one terrible night in the midst of an earthquake, and it is left to Harwell to try to fulfill the boy's mother's dreams for Toma--and perhaps to respond to the intoxicated overtures of Lydia, a young English schoolteacher exiled in the mountains. This is adventure writing at a lofty pitch, exquisitely calibrated to its period and filled with superb evocations of landscape, tender penetration of personality and unflinching scenes of sex and violence. And what a movie it would make! (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/31/1997
Release date: 08/01/1997
Paperback - 305 pages - 978-0-06-082842-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 350 pages - 978-0-425-16446-4
Paperback - 978-0-425-16552-2
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