Uncharted Places

Nora Johnson, Author Simon & Schuster $17.45 (332p) ISBN 978-0-671-66136-6
Johnson's novels are always diverting, and this one has an especially provocative premise: its protagonist, Dinah, emerges from the subway at Bloomingdale's with a full-blown case of amnesia. Despite her confusion and vulnerability, Dinah has some enviable traits. Innocent and guileless, she does not carry the common human baggage of guilt and resentment against parents, siblings and spouses. With tart irony, Johnson contrasts Dinah's naivete with the neurotic behavior of the trendy New Yorkers she comes in contact with, including male chauvinist and famous surgeon Willard Wakefield, who marries her because she is ``a clean slate . . . and grateful. The only grateful woman in town!'' Dinah becomes a model wife and stepmother to Willy's two children, and soon has a child of her own. But as facts about her former life begin to emerge, each resurfacing memory robs Dinah of inner peace and further stresses her relationship with Willy, who himself is reacting badly to the tensions of his demanding career and his need to keep Dinah under his thumb. Meanwhile, Dinah is convinced by her Haitian maid, Emereldastet , that she is possessed by loas, or spirits. The introduction of voodoo into the plot and a mounting disregard of credibility veer the novel off track. In trying to convey her message that Dinah's redemption comes through acknowledgement of the mystical element in the world, Johnson disengages the reader's identification with her heretofore appealing heroine. (October)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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