Precious in His Sight

Martha Ellen Hughes, Author, M. Hughes, Author Viking Books $17.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-670-82401-4
This wrongheaded first novel tries too hard to please and ends up haplessly chasing its own, oft-told tale. Yet another variation on a done-to-death Southern themethe dregs of a once aristocratic family, the Patouts, face off for what's left of the estatethis version comes up short virtually across the board. An unsteady, ever-shifting perspective lopes aimlessly from character to character, relinquishing any hope of narrative focus and leaving in its wake a messy trail of loose ends and unanswered questions. In lieu of plot, Hughes offers reams of irrelevant observations and detail in a misguided attempt to buoy her rudderless story with eccentricity and regional ``color''; this gratuitous and often clunky description, attendant to even the most tangential characters, constantly derails an already weak storyline. Cliched situations, cardboard characters and unbelievable dialogue ice the cake. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
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