To All Appearances a Lady

Marilyn Bowering, Author Viking Books $18.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-670-83340-5
In this strangely beautiful, haunting first novel, Canadian poet Bowering sets her hero, half-Chinese boat pilot Robert Lam, adrift on a voyage around Vancouver Island with the ghost or spirit of Lam Fan, his just-deceased 100-year-old stepmother. Their taunting, fiercely loving relationship propels Robert on a reluctant journey of self-discovery. He learns the full story of his mother, idealistic reformer India Thackery, an emigre from Hong Kong who aided lepers on a Canadian island colony and suffered a terrible death. He realizes that India's husband, Robert Louis Haack, a robber and paid informer on Chinese illegal immigrants, was not his real father. In unmasking the surprise of his true paternity, Robert gradually comes to accept himself. The cadenced narative yields its secrets slowly as the action shifts between Canada, China and California, and from the 1890s to the 1950s. In Lam Fan, the ruefully wise matriarch, Bowering has created a magnificent character, at once mythical and human. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
Hardcover - 978-0-14-013313-4
Paperback - 360 pages - 978-0-14-305346-0
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