The eerie atmosphere of southern Louisiana provides the perfect setting for Gothic drama, and Hunter makes full use of snake-ridden bayous, isolated Southern mansions and seedy New Orleans streets to create a vivid, haunting backdrop for her gripping tale of the nightmarish passions that rule a prominent Louisiana family. Nicolette Dazincourt is a naive small-town girl when she marries the wealthy, sexy Montgomery DeLande, but she quickly learns that money and power have given her husband and his family license to engage in monstrous psychosexual terrorism. Hunter paints a chillingly realistic picture of an abusive relationship: alternately pampered and ``punished,'' Nicolette grows desperate for her husband's approval and acquiesces to his every demand. When she discovers that the Delandes are abusing her young daughters, Nicolette tries to leave only to be thwarted by the family's ruthless determination to prevent any defection. The bulk of the novel recounts, in engrossing detail, Nicolette's flight from her husband and her eventual confrontation. Along the way, she discovers the value of female bonding, of more enlightened male companionship and of her own character. Hunter's pacing could be better in places, and the book contains some horrifically graphic descriptions of violence against women, but Nicolette is an engaging narrator and her story is a definite page-turner. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1994 Release date: 08/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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