A Woman of Singular Occupation

Penelope Gilliatt, Author Scribner Book Company $17.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-684-19072-3
The ingredients of this elegantly mannered adventure set in Istanbul at the outbreak of WW II could hardly be more satisfyingly romantic, but the novel's weaknesses of plot, dialogue and characterization prevent it from cohering into a satisfying whole. Catherine de Rochefauld, wife of the French ambassador to Turkey, is not only stunningly beautiful but a brilliant composer in addition. Estranged from her husband by reason of politics--he supports Marshall Henri Petain, ruler of Vichy France--she sets up residence on the shores of the Bosphorus in a lovely old house that provides a perfect setting for her love affair with young American banker Thomas Drake. As headlong in love as Drake finds himself, he is increasingly disturbed by Catherine's mysterious preoccupaton with concealed activities that seem to place her in danger. Catherine makes an admirable heroine, but the story line loses its way, at times becoming downright implausible. New Yorker writer Gilliatt's dialogue strains at cultivated wit and sometimes sounds artificial. Not given well-rounded characterizations, the protagonists do not linger long in the imagination. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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