The Second Silence

Eileen Goudge, Author Viking Books $24.95 (365p) ISBN 978-0-670-89159-7
In her seventh novel, best-selling Goudge (One Last Dance) delivers every modern cliche required to satisfy readers who like their fiction titillating and predictable. Recovering alcoholic Noelle Van Doren informs her domineering, philandering husband, Robert, that she wants a divorce. Robert is an unscrupulous real estate developer whose deals routinely destroy historical buildings and damage the environment, and he doesn't like rejection. He avenges himself on Noelle by inviting her to dinner at a popular restaurant where he slips a drug into her soda that makes her appear to be drunk. He then snatches their five-year-old daughter, Emma, and embarks on a campaign to discredit Noelle and gain sole custody. Meanwhile, Goudge interweaves the story of Mary and Charlie, Noelle's long-divorced parents. Mary conceived Noelle while still in high school. Though she and Charlie attempted to make a go of their marriage, they were thwarted by family interference. The pair are reunited in the quest to exonerate Noelle of Robert's unfair accusation that she is an unfit mother. The novel's central issues are noble but executed without imagination: power-hungry Robert is the perfect villain; Noelle the passive wife and mother finding the strength to take control of her life; and Mary and Charlie's reignited romance proves that first love is best. Peripheral characters include Noelle's teenage sister, Bronwyn, who is deflowered with care and sensitivity by wrong-side-of-the-tracks Dante, a misunderstood fellow with ""a bad-boy smile and bedroom eyes"" who's caught up in Robert's evil plan. The narrator's voice alternates between folksy and New Age therapy speak, yielding few surprises in this glorified Harlequin romance. 4-city author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
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Mass Market Paperbound - 464 pages - 978-0-451-20273-4
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