Prophecies

Helena Soister, Author Bantam Books $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-05878-9
Uneven pacing and extraneous subplots outweigh interesting facets of narrator Sara Lathbury's personality in this romantic suspense novel set during the Reformation. In 1556, English widow Sara takes her young widowed niece Bess Marwick to Antwerp to find a new factor, or representative, on the Continent for Sara's inherited shipping business. Handsome, intelligent Bartholomew Catlin agrees, also allowing Bess to train in his countinghouse. Romance blooms slowly between Bess and Catlin, impeded by the young man's conviction that he's bring haunted by the ghost of his father's vengeful business partner, by his fascination with quack physician and astrologer Nicolas van Wouwere, by his continued dalliances with whores and by his own belabored indecisiveness. When van Wouwere cheats Catlin and flees to Rome, Bess and Sara follow to retrieve the money and exact revenge for an evil horoscope. Their triumphant return proves Catlin's ghostly obsessions are unfounded. While there is some interesting period detail, first novelist Soister fails to provide adequate background on the Inquisition, which figures in the plot. And Catlin's inordinately lengthy psychological torment leaves the reader with lttle sympathy for his struggle. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
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