White Lies

Jonellen Heckler, Author Putnam Publishing Group $21.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-399-13472-2
The three sisters--Sterling, Roz and Quinn--whose letters constitute this compulsively readable yet often irritating novel, disclose more to the reader than to one another. Maturing in the volatile '60s and '70s, they grow and change remarkably but so credibly that they command respect even when their actions and attitudes are least sympathetic. To compensate for a marriage contracted out of notions of propriety and conformity, Sterling, the eldest, immerses herself in popular causes: spiritualism, consciousness-raising sessions with prisoners, abortion rights and, finally, feminism, which brings her circuitously back to her husband. When faced with the death of her lover and betrayal by his brother, Roz, who alone of the three gives herself unreservedly, founds a wildly successful escort service, based, it is implied, on indiscriminate coupling with her clients. Most problematic because of her ambition and dogmatism is Quinn, the youngest and a well-known investigative reporter, who marries a black lawyer and battles with her family for his right to be one of them. Heckler's ( A Fragile Peace ) theme--that the sisters' relationships are preserved by the white lies their differences force them to tell--adds a distinctive dimension to the narrative. Literary Guild and Dou ble day Book Club alternates. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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