Belle Haven

Juliet Fitzgerald, Author, Jul Jackson, Author Viking Books $18.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-83318-4
Drawing heavily on Rebecca and Jane Eyre, the pseudonymous Fitgerald puts sex at the evil center of this gothic romance set in early 20th-century Virginia. Dabney Beale, orphaned daughter of a disinherited Southern beauty and a penurious artist, is expelled from finishing school and must live with her beautiful but wicked Aunt Charlotte in the manse of the title. Dabney--whose assets are brains and gumption rather than looks--falls in love with Bay Hamilton, a young doctor whose father committed suicide after abandoning him and his mother to marry Charlotte. While uncovering the extent of her aunt's depravity and its effect on her childhood, Dabney confronts her own sexuality with Bay. Fitzgerald's one-dimensional characters are nevertheless appealing, especially Charlotte's alcoholic current husband, her lover/lawyer and her servants imported from seamy New York City neighborhoods. The plot, though predictable, proceeds briskly. There are no surprises in this insubstantial but effectively written tale, in which only the mystery of Charlotte's phenomenal allure is left unsolved. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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