The Book of Reuben: 2a Novel

Tabitha King, Author Dutton Books $22.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-93766-1
In addition to its own deftly crafted tale, King's latest provides a rich backdrop for two of her earlier protagonists-Reuben's second wife, the eponymous Pearl, and his son Sam (One on One). Set once again in the blue-collar milieu of Nodd's Ridge, Maine, the story covers 25 years in the life of Reuben Styles, a change-of-life baby consigned in his youth to living in a horse barn by his heartless farmer father. The book's focus-an unpleasant one-is Reuben's marriage to Laura Haggerty, the virginal, doll-like object of a high school crush. An unrelievedly unsympathetic character, Laura hefts food and scalding coffee at her husband, strikes the children and becomes born again-the better to fool around with the Reverend Smart, whom Reuben calls ``that vain peacock of a con man.'' Interwoven with the Styles saga is that of the widow Christopher and her son David, summer people whose movement in and out of Reuben's life leaves unresolved plot threads that include an unsolved murder. (It is the widow's addiction to ``boozing and cruising'' that pulls Reuben into the use of alcohol; otherwise, the Christophers are extraneous and confusing players.) With graphic sexual encounters and daubs of humor, King etches a convincing portrait of a gentle male psyche while evoking the timbre of 1960s rural America. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1994
Release date: 09/01/1994
Mass Market Paperbound - 10 pages - 978-0-451-17999-9
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