Houses of Stone

Barbara Michaels, Author Simon & Schuster $21 (336p) ISBN 978-0-671-68949-0
The bestselling romantic suspense author ( Vanish with the Rose ) falters here with a novel that lacks both romantic intrigue and suspenseful plotting. The story begins well, with vivid descriptive writing and convincing dialogue briskly setting up the premise. Karen Holloway, an ambitious assistant professor at an unnamed women's college in the Northeast, learns of a previously unpublished novel by a 19th-century author known only as Ismene. Since she herself made Ismene famous in the academic world by publishing a volume of her verse, Karen knows her reputation will skyrocket if she can buy the manuscript from the bookseller who found it and issue it with her commentary. She and her colleague Peggy Finneyfrock (a well-drawn character) travel to a dilapidated estate in Virginia's Tidewater region in search of clues to Ismene's identity. But other academics are also in hot pursuit, and Karen finds herself haunted by nightmares brought on by the claustrophobic themes in Ismene's work (``houses of stone'' is a phrase from one of the pseudonymous author's poems). Michaels's attempt to bring feminist critical ideas into the mainstream results in conversations that sound like lectures, and her plot's initial momentum bogs down in extraneous details, overly intricate narrative twists and the sporadic appearances of Karen's prospective lovers, who seem decidedly secondary to the main story. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1993
Release date: 10/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-198442-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-425-14306-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7451-6512-7
Paperback - 522 pages - 978-0-8161-5937-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-06-158299-8
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-176425-7
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-176429-5
Library Binding - 522 pages - 978-0-8161-5936-9
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 384 pages - 978-0-06-176427-1
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-176424-0
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