Queen Lear

Molly Keane, Author Dutton Books $17.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24799-9
Keane's distinctive powers remain at their wickedly brilliant height despite the 60-odd years that have elapsed since she first wrote as M. J. Farrell. As in Good Behaviour , her setting is the decaying, yet flamboyant, country-house life of the Anglo-Irish gentry during the first half of this century; again, her heroine's personality is woefully misshapen by the heedlessness and cruelty of her parents. Through eight-year-old Nicandra Forester's eyes, we see the ``Day of Disaster'' when her beautiful, beloved, but capricious ``Maman'' absconds with both the family's dashing land steward and her widowed sister's jewels. Nicandra's ``silent little father'' Sir Dermot, who named his daughter after a horse, is emotionally remote, preoccupied like most of his class with horse breeding and racing. Generous Aunt Tossie, a stout, gourmandizing tippler, on the other hand, overwhelms her niece with maternal affection, reminding Nicandra unbearably of what she has lost. Compelled to give love where none is required, the beautiful, grownup Nicandra finds her perfect nemeses in the debonair and grasping Andrew Bland and in her bosom friend, Lalage Lawless. Keene richly describes a lost age and the demise of the family Forester, along with its ``Dear Old Place.'' Despite the simplicity of its overall con ception, this acutely perceptive novel plumbs deeper than the delicious mockery of its surface to expose the rottenness of a foundering, class-ridden society. Major ad/promo. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 232 pages - 978-0-14-014491-8
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