Readers who enjoyed the wickedly satiric portrait of an eccentric family in Incline Our Hearts and were moved by narrator Julian Ramsey's coming-of-age travails in A Bottle in the Smoke may be disappointed in this final volume of the trilogy. Wilson continues his exploration of larger themes: the untrustworthiness of memory, and therefore of biography; the transformation of history into myths, which mankind requires for solace; the process by which secrets come to light and change one's views of past events. But the narrative, while intellectually acute, is intrinsically dull and lifeless. The eponymous ``daughters of Albion'' are the numerous young women who come under the spell of a charismatic man named Rice Robey, who in the '20s wrote popular books under the pseudonym of Albion Pugh. When he crosses Julian's path in the 1960s, Robey/Pugh also reinvolves him in a ``conjunction of personal destinies,'' with the eccentric Lampitt family, whose members represent various strata of British society, political affiliations and contributions to the arts. Readers are also subjected to ``excerpts'' from Pugh's long epic poem conveying his iconoclastic religious vision, a device that drags the already lagging narrative to a dead halt. In this volume, the magic lure of the Lampitts has worn thin, the other characters are less than compelling and the melancholy tone of the story ameliorates even the pleasure of reading Wilson's intelligent prose. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992 Release date: 01/01/1992 Genre: Fiction
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