Pay the Piper

Joan Williams, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24543-8
Williams (The Morning and the Evening, Country Woman) is an accomplished novelist who seems here to have muted a potentially engrossing story. Protagonist Laurel Perry is neurotically insecure about her upbringing on the wrong side of the tracks in Delton, Miss. In addition, she has always felt inferior to her well-bred but philandering husband, and the novels she writes, though well reviewed, do not sell. Lonely and vulnerable, on her annual summer visit to Delton, she falls in love with Hal MacDonald, scion of a socially prominent family, who is in prison for shooting his stepson. Willfully blind to the weaknesses in Hal's characterbesides being a murderer, he is a self-pitying, alcoholic wastrelLaurel convinces herself that she will be the instrument of his rehabilitation. After her divorce, anguished at having to leave her son with his father in Connecticut, Laurel moves with her new, ex-convict husband to his parents' plantation in the Delta, where she immediately realizes she has made a terrible mistake. Hal shows no aptitude or inclination for any kind of work; he beats Laurel; and she finally understands that he is a sociopath. Laurel's passivity and lifelong subservience to men make her a rather colorless character, lacking the animation that might inspire empathy in readers. It is only when she realizes she has thrown away her life, discovers herself alone in middle age and makes muddled attempts to find companionship and happiness that she becomes an appealing figure. At this point the novel acquires depth and poignancy. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 312 pages - 978-1-4976-9628-0
Ebook - 312 pages - 978-1-4976-9633-4
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